HC Deb 06 April 1971 vol 815 cc232-3
15. Mr. Scott-Hopkins

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will now review the level of supplementary benefit payable to the severely disabled who are retirement pensioners and in need of additional warmth and nutrition.

Sir K. Joseph

No, Sir. The Supplementary Benefits Commission has discretionary powers to increase the weekly rate of supplementary benefit above the ordinary requirements level when a person has a special need.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

I thank my right hon. Friend for that, and it may well be the case, but is it not true, nevertheless, that people who are severely disabled, perhaps having had a double amputation, have great need for extra warmth, but that in many cases this cannot be forthcoming because the cost is excessive? Will he look into such cases for me?

Sir K. Joseph

At the suggestion of the Supplmentary Benefits Commission, we increased the money available for the Commission to provide extra cash to those with special heating needs. I hope that my hon. Friend and any other hon. Members who are concerned will let me know of any severely disabled persons whose heating requirements are not being met by the Supplementary Benefits Commission.

Mr. Meacher

In view of the very small number of severely disabled persons receiving exceptional need grant for heating, and in view of the still pathetically meagre amount of the grant, will the right hon. Gentleman institute a heating allowance of at least 50p a week as of right for all the severely disabled for the six months of autumn and winter each year?

Sir K. Joseph

The discretionary power given to the Supplementary Benefits Commission is, surely, just what is needed for individuals whose requirements, housing and other conditions vary from case to case. The hon. Gentleman asks for a 50p allowance. It has been increased to permit a 75p allowance per week throughout the year, when necessary.