§ Mr. McTaggart
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what criteria were used in setting the levels of income above which individuals would not qualify for (a) supplementary benefit and (b) family income supplement.
§ Mr. Newton
Supplementary benefit is not payable to claimants if their income, excluding any income which may be disregarded, exceeds their, and their families', requirements as laid down in regulations. Requirements include normal requirements, additional requirements such as heating and special diets, and an addition for housing costs if these are not covered by housing benefit. Normal requirements are the supplementary benefit scale rates. These have their origins in the national assistance rates introduced in 1948 on the basis of the cost of essential living expenses. They have, of course, been regularly uprated since then and their real value is now approximately twice what it was in 1948.
The prescribed amounts for family income supplement vary according to the number of children in the family. 349W Rates set in 1971, when the scheme was introduced, took account of supplementary benefit scales then current, income tax thresholds, housing costs and work expenses. Since then amounts have been uprated taking broad account of these items and also, particularly, of movement in prices. In recent years increases have been made ahead of the prices index, giving an overall increase in real terms.