§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much money has been expended in each of the last three years by the Supplementary Benefits Commission using its discretionary powers under Section 13 of the Supplementary Benefit Act 1966 to pay benefit in an urgent case to any person; and what guidance, if any, is given to officers about the circumstances in which they should use these discretionary powers.
§ Mr. Deakins
I regret that this information is not available. Because of the varied and wholly exceptional situations in which urgent need may arise, specific guidance cannot be given, and officers are given a wide discretion to take whatever action they consider essential at the time. They are, however, expected to satisfy themselves as far as possible 141W that there is no other way in which the person can get over his difficulty, and that a payment is essential to prevent serious hardship.