HC Deb 11 March 1963 vol 673 cc944-5
11. Mr. Mapp

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance if he will give the average number of recipients for National Assistance in the Oldham area for the first six weeks of 1963, and the average additional payment per recipient to cover heating and lighting during that period over and above a normal period.

Mr. N. Macpherson

On 29th January, 1963, about 11,000 persons living in the Oldham area were receiving allowances from the Board. Information about payments for heating and lighting is not available in the form requested, but about 70 per cent. of the elderly recipients of assistance in Oldham were receiving special weekly additions, averaging 5s., to cover the cost of extra fuel requirements. Additional grants for extra fuel, extra bedding or warm clothing have also been made to meet exceptional needs arising from the very cold weather.

Mr. Mapp

Will the Minister be good enough to explain how 5s. could meet the tremendous hardships involved, in view of the fact that on average it costs about 10s. a week for an extra bag of coal for heating downstairs and probably 10s. a week for other heating in the house? Will the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter again with particular reference to the alertness of the National Assistance Board, and will he ensure that the Board is alive to the fact that we have had a bitter winter, particularly in towns like the one that I have in mind which are half-way up the hillside?

Mr. Macpherson

This is the responsibility of the National Assistance Board, and I am prepared to consider the matter further with them. The 5s. average special weekly addition is paid over and above the amount of the fuel element, so to speak, that is included in the ordinary National Assistance allowance.