HC Deb 19 November 1970 vol 806 cc481-3W
Mr. Armstrong

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list in the OFFICIAL REPORT the separate means tests investigations which a lower-paid worker will be subject to if he is to claim the benefits to which he is entitled; and if he will give an estimate of the number of civil servants required to operate the various schemes.

Mr. Dean

Following are the main national statutory assessments involved:

Administered by the Department of Health and Social Security

  1. 1. Supplementary Benefits.
  2. 2. Free Welfare Milk and Foods.
  3. 3. Refunds and exemptions of National Health Service charges.
  4. 4. Patients' hospital travelling expenses.
  5. 5. Legal aid (civil).

Administered by the Law Societies 6. Legal Aid (Civil claims not involving proceedings). 7. Legal Advice.

Administered by the Courts under guidance of the Home Departments 8. Legal Aid (Criminal).

Administered by Local Authorities 9. Free School Meals. 10. Higher Education Awards (designated courses). 11. Rate Rebates*.

* Rate rebates are included for convenience although they are not strictly speaking a social service benefit but a remission of a tax.

In addition, the provisions of the Family Income Supplements Bill at present before the House involve a test of income.

It is provided in some cases that entitlement to one benefit automatically carries entitlement to others without further means testing: e.g. supplementary beneficiaries qualify for free welfare milk and foods, free school meals for their children, relief rom prescription, optical and dental charges, and, provided that their benefit includes the full amount of rent and rates, would not need to apply for a rate rebate; recipients of free welfare foods on grounds of low income are automatically exempted from payment of prescription charges.

I have already told the House (5th November, 1970) that the Government will try to arrange that the test for the new family income supplement should become a passport to exemptions from other charges.

The number of civil servants directly employed in assessing and paying out benefits under these schemes is about 18,900.