Welfare Reform — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:04 pm on 10th December 2008.

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Photo of Lord McKenzie of Luton Lord McKenzie of Luton Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions) (also in the Department for Communities and Local Government) 4:04 pm, 10th December 2008

My Lords, I can certainly do so as regards the latter point. The White Paper makes it clear that we will not seek to transfer carers from income support to any regime which requires conditionality for them, certainly until the Department of Health review is completed and we have a more holistic picture of how we should support carers. I very much take the point that they provide a huge service to many people in our country and that we should value them as much as possible. I absolutely accept the point about the difficulty of lone parents moving towards and going into the labour market. One of the key components of the White Paper is that rather than determining what people are required to do and how they go about that when they are dependent on benefit—whether it is employment and support allowance, income support or jobseeker's allowance—there should be more flexibility to address their particular needs. In particular, the relationship with the advisory Jobcentre Plus in building a relationship and developing supportive help will be important. The noble Baroness referred to 20 year-olds having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. I am bound to say that as a 62 year-old, I sometimes suffer from the same problem.

The noble Baroness also asked about flexibility for people who wish or need to work only 16 hours per week. The JSA rules include flexibility around availability for work. This can be negotiated and discussed with the adviser.