HC Deb 08 June 1944 vol 400 cc1515-6
69. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Health the number of cases reassessed under the supplementary pensions which commenced on 17th January, the date when completed and the number who have been granted arrears through proving exceptional hardship.

Mr. Willink

The review of cases under the new Regulations was completed by the 23rd March last. The number of cases reviewed was just over one and a quarter million. As regards the last part of the Question, the Assistance Board inform me that they are not aware of any case in which a pensioner has proved that he suffered exceptional hardship by reason of the plan adopted for carrying out the work of review. Where, however, a change in the pensioner's circumstances was brought to notice the case was reassessed forthwith. The number of cases so dealt with is not known.

Mr. Tinker

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that his reply to the latter part of the Question goes to prove that an injustice was done to old age pensioners in not dating payments in all cases back to 17th January, as it is difficult to satisfy the Assistance Board in cases of exceptional hardship?

Mr. Willink

I have discussed that matter with the hon. Member on an earlier occasion. It is difficult to re-open it now.

Mr. Tom Brown

The whole of the cases have not been dealt with, because in one district they are still proceeding with them.

Mr. Willink

Perhaps the hon. Member will bring to my notice any case in which my information is inaccurate.

Mr. Brown

They have been sent to the Department and they are not dealt with yet.

71. Mr. Thomas Fraser

asked the Minister of Health whether he will extend the provision giving supplementary pensioners, who are householders, a rent allowance of 5s. or 6s. a week where houses are charitably provided, to ensure that no less a sum than 6s. will be allowed for rent even when a rent of less than 6s. is paid.

Mr. Willink

No, Sir. The Regulations clearly limit the addition for rent to "the net rent payable so far as is reasonable." In the case of houses charitably provided, the Board exercise their discretion in such a way as to place a pensioner who is receiving help in this way on the same footing as if he were receiving an equivalent cash payment from the charity.

Mr. Fraser

Will the Minister bear in mind that where a rent of less than 6s. is paid few amenities are provided, and the housekeeping expenses are correspondingly higher?

Mr. Willink

We discussed in December last the principle of abolishing the low rent exceptions, and I thought that it met with general acceptance; but if my hon. Friend has any specific suggestion to make as to the type of case he has in mind perhaps he will send it to me.