HC Deb 09 May 1972 vol 836 cc1106-7
4. Mr. R. C. Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will now introduce special heating allowances of at least 50p a week for all pensioners receiving supplementary benefit.

The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Paul Dean)

No, Sir. The ordinary level of supplementary pension, which will be increased substantially in October, provides for all normal heating expenses. Where there is need for extra heating, special allowances are already provided by the Supplementary Benefits Commission.

Mr. Mitchell

Is the Under-Secretary aware that that is almost the same answer as that which I received when I first asked the Question last September? Since then we have had a very long and cold winter in which a number of old-age pensioners have suffered severely from the cold. Will the hon. Gentleman treat this matter seriously? Large numbers of pensioners cannot at the moment afford to heat their premises properly. Will he make sure that something is done about this situation before next winter?

Mr. Dean

All supplementary pensioners will have an increase in both the scale rates and the long-term addition in October this year—in other words, before next winter—which will amount to 85p for a single person and £1.30 for a married couple. In addition, the special addition for heating is being increased by 20 per cent. in October.

Mr. Heffer

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that no Government—I emphasise no Government—over the past few years have done enough for our pensioners? Is it not clear that the increase which will become effective later this year will not meet the needs of pensioners and that, in particular, there is a need, as my hon. Friend said, for extra money for heating? In my constituency, young people have carried out a survey among the old and have discovered that elderly people are living in sheer misery during the winter months. Will the Under-Secretary look at the problem again and do something about it?

Mr. Dean

Yes. I assure the hon. Gentleman and the House that my right hon. Friend takes this long-standing problem extremely seriously. In addition to the cash improvements, about which I have just given the House information, my right hon. Friend is also concerting activity with those who have undertaken surveys to ascertain the possibilities of other methods of assisting those who may require extra heating—for example, better insulation in their homes.

Back to
Forward to