HC Deb 15 February 1954 vol 523 cc1620-1
1. Mr. Dodds

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many people received National Assistance grants in December, 1953;how this compares with December, 1951; and what were the sums of money involved.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)

On 15th December, 1953, the number of current awards of regular weekly allowances, which took into account where necessary the needs of the recipient's wife and any other dependants, was about 1,760,000 compared with about 1,460,000 on 18th December, 1951. Information about the amount paid out in December, 1953, is not at present available.

Mr. Dodds

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that, owing to the very big increase, it is desirable to raise the old-age pension payments; and, in view of the very heavy increase in 1953, how does he explain the Minister of Labour's statement that there was a reduction in the cost of living? Does not this blow it sky-high?

Mr. Peake

The increase in the numbers on Assistance is due to a variety of causes. I would point out that the increase in the last two years is almost precisely similar to the increase in the last two years of Socialist Government, but I would also add that the increase of 100,000 persons during the last 12 months is the smallest annual increase since the National Assistance Act was passed in 1948.

Mr. T. Brown

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as far back as 12th November last year, his attention was drawn by a deputation from the Old-Age Pensioners'Association to the alarming increase in the number of people who had to seek Assistance, and that on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman promised to give the matter his very serious consideration? Can the Minister say whether the matter has received the serious consideration he promised?

Mr. Peake

This matter is under constant review, and the Government give it their constant attention.