§ Mr. Hannam
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will review the regulation which prevents local authorities from paying the first £10.65 of any residential care costs for married women who have no State income support; and if she will make a statement.
§ Mr. Meacher
Persons provided with residential care by local authorities are required by the National Assistance Act 1948 to pay for their accommodation. If their resources do not enable them to meet the full economic cost, the local authority may charge such lesser amount as they may determine subject to a prescribed minimum which is currently £10.65 per week. The Act requires spouses to support each other and local authorities will therefore normally aggregate the resources of a married couple in assessing the ability of residents to pay.
Subject to its normal rules the Supplementary Benefits Commission will award sufficient benefit to enable a resident to pay the prescribed minimum charge. In certain circumstances the Commission may regard a couple as no longer living in the same household and consequently make a separate assessment of a resident's resources which could assist in meeting the local authority's charge.
If the hon. Member has a particular case in mind and will provide details I will be happy to look into it.