§ Mr. David Steel
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the current annual cost of paying non-contributory invalidity benefit at the same rate as contributory retirement pension; and if he will make a statement about the Government's intentions in this respect.
§ Mr. Prentice
The gross cost of paying non-contributory invalidity benefit at the same rate as the basic flat-rate retirement pension, together with dependency increases where appropriate, is estimated at between £50–£55 million. Because of differing individual needs, it is not possible to estimate the offsetting savings on supplementary benefit accurately but we believe it could be up to £20 million. We have no proposals to increase the non-contributory rate.