HC Deb 27 May 1963 vol 678 c890
2. Miss Herbison

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many discretionary grants for clothing were made by the National Assistance Board during 1962.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

In 1962 the Board made 223,000 discretionary lump-sum grants to meet exceptional needs, mainly for clothing.

Miss Herbison

Is it not a fact, since there are almost a quarter of a million of these grants made in one year, that the National Assistance rates must he too low? Surely the Minister must he aware that there are many people who do not make a claim for any such grant but who desperately need it? Will the hon. Lady ask her right hon. Friend to give some consideration to these matters?

Mrs. Thatcher

I think the figures show the flexibility of the National Assistance system to meet special needs as they arise.

Mrs. Slater

How many of these cases are sent in the first place to, say, the W.V.S. before a grant for clothing is made?

Mrs. Thatcher

Since I have been answering from this Box, only three cases have been brought to my attention, and we have quickly remedied the instructions so that people are given a cash grant first if they need it.