HC Deb 22 June 1971 vol 819 cc1173-4
6. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will issue a direction to all Social Security offices in Derbyshire to the effect that applicants for clothing grants, previously made by Derbyshire Education Committee, will be treated uniformly.

Mr. Dean

No, Sir. Standing instructions issued by the Supplementary Benefits Commission already ensure that all local offices including those in Derbyshire apply the same standards when considering discretionary lump-sum payments to meet the cost of essential clothing. The amount allowed in a particular case will of course depend upon the individual circumstances.

Mr. Skinner

I am afraid that they do not all apply the same standards. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the lead given by the Government in attacking the needy has spread to the Tory-dominated Derbyshire County Council, which has callously withdrawn schoolchildren's clothing grants? Will he instruct his officials to apply a uniform standard so that they can repair at least some of the damage which the Government, in combination with the Derbyshire County Council, have inflicted upon schoolchildren in Derbyshire?

Mr. Dean

I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman said. If he has any individual cases which he thinks should be brought to my attention, I should be glad to look at them. I understand that the local education authority has withdrawn its necessitous clothing concession from people on supplementary benefit, but local officers of the Commission have made an arrangement with the authority with the aim of ensuring that the child of a supplementary benefit claimant should not go short of necessary clothing.