HC Deb 04 December 1973 vol 865 cc1073-4
13. Mr. Spriggs

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the cost of heating a three-up and three-down house in a smokeless zone where there is only one fireplace ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dean

It is not possible to give such an estimate because of the many variable factors involved.

Mr. Spriggs

If the Minister cannot assess the cost of heating an average three-up and three-down house, will he take it from me that people, especially pensioners and those in receipt of social security payments, who live in what are now smokeless zones have no option but to purchase smokeless fuels? For example, Phurnacite is £1.43 per cwt. and Sunbrite is £1.23 per cwt. People must pay that price. Surely it is about time that the Department could give a correct assessment and, when applications are made by older people, make a payment under the social security regulations in accordance with the actual costs.

Mr. Dean

I am advised that the price increase in smokeless fuels this year has been marginal. The hon. Gentleman will, however, know that the rates of pension and the rates of supplementary benefit take into account fuel costs. Furthermore, additional allowances are available where there are exceptional needs for additional fuel costs or where a household is changing over to smokeless fuel and may have to incur additional expenditure in so doing.