HC Deb 03 December 1962 vol 668 cc911-3
10. Mr. Lipton

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many supplementary grants are being made by the Brixton and Kennington area offices of the National Assistance Board; what is the total value of such grants; how much of this total is in respect of rent; and what were the corresponding figures last year.

Mrs. Thatcher

At 25th September last, the number of weekly National Assistance allowances payable in this area as supplements to non-contributory old-age pensions and as supplements to retirement pensions and other National Insurance benefits was 7,137, compared with 7,064 at the corresponding time in 1961. I regret that the remainder of the information asked for is not available.

Mr. Lipton

Will the hon. Lady explain how it is that, whereas it is known how many grants are being made, apparently no total is kept to show what those grants amount to? Is it not rather curious that, in a comparatively small area like this, records are not kept to indicate the total amount paid out weekly and how much of that amount is in respect of rent? Why should these figures not be available?

Mrs. Thatcher

Figures are not available for particular areas because the figures are taken for the country as a whole from a 21½ per cent. sample. Figures are not kept separately for rent on an absolute basis because this stems back to the basis on which needs for National Assistance are assessed, and rent is part of the need. It is the difference between needs and resources which is the amount of grant given.

Mr. Ross

Could not the Ministry give us the average calculation taken into account in respect of rent in the London area? That certainly would help us.

Mrs. Thatcher

If the hon. Member will put down a Question on that, I shall try to do so.

22. Mr. Wilkins

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many supplements to retirement pensions are currently made in the area served by the National Assistance Board offices in Bristol; and what was the comparable figure a year ago.

Mrs. Thatcher

The figure at 25th September last, which is the latest available, was 14,369 compared with 13,991 a year before.

Mr. Wilkins

In view of this very substantial increase in the number of people applying for supplementary benefit through National Assistance offices in Bristol, and as this appears to be nationwide in view of the fact that 1¼ million people are having to resort to National Assistance benefits, would not the hon. Lady suggest to her right hon. Friend that it is time that there was a review of basic insurance benefits, especially of old-age pension and unemployment benefits? As her right hon. Friend quoted a figure of 20 per cent unemployed, which the hon. Lady seemed to indicate was rather small, and as many of these unemployed have had to apply for additional benefit from the National Assistance Board, is it not time that consideration was given to increasing the basic payment—or do we have to wait until just two months before the next General Election, as usual?

Mrs. Thatcher

The figure is 378 more than the previous year, and part of that is due to increasing the National Assistance scale rates and therefore making more people eligible to get the extra help which they need.