§ Mr. Barry Field
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he plans to make any changes in the arrangements for dealing with benefit claims from 16 and 17-year-olds.
§ Mr. Jack
I announced measures yesterday, in reply to the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson), which will further improve delivery of income support under the severe hardship provision to 16 and 17-year-olds. These will improve further the service provided to young people by Benefits Agency offices. I also stated the Government's intention to improve the handling of young people leaving care. We will legislate for 16 and 17-year-olds leaving care who live independently and continue in full-time education to receive income support without having to prove that they are estranged from their parents. We further intend to give those leaving care to live independently, who are registered for work and youth training, entitlement to income support for up to eight weeks. This initiative in conjunction with the earlier referral under the liaison arrangements, which we also announced yesterday, will give valuable assistance to this vulnerable group in establishing themselves in their new environment.