§ Mrs. Knight
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has for amending the supplementary benefit regulations.
§ Mr. Newton
My right hon. Friend has asked the social security advisory committee to consider and report on proposals to amend the supplementary benefit regulations. These seek to clarify existing provisions. They also contain some changes of substance and I have placed in the Vote Office a note which gives details of the proposals. The main changes are:
- i. a number of improvements are made in the provisions relating to single payments; for example, safety gates are added to the list of items of household equipment for which single payments can be awarded;
- ii. additional requirements become payable for the additional cost of clothing and footwear where the costs are greater than average because the claimant is disabled or of abnormal stature;
- iii. certain gaps are filled between the Great Britain and Northern Ireland supplementary benefit schemes;
- iv. the circumstances in which deductions from supplementary benefit on account of voluntary unemployment are reduced from 40 per cent. to 20 per cent. will be limited to those cases where there is pregnancy or serious illness in the family;
- v. the payment of a set minimum for housing requirements to joint householders where their actual requirements are less than that amount is abolished.
My right hon. Friend proposes to refer to the committee at the end of this month two sets of draft supplementary benefit amendment regulations to give effect to the proposals. Copies of these will also be placed in the Vote Office at that time.
When we have received and considered the committee's report my right hon. Friend proposes to lay the regulations before the House, modified as he may consider appropriate in the light of the committee's recommendations, with a view to securing their passage through Parliament before the Summer Recess. My right hon. Friend will also lay before Parliament a copy of the committee's report on the regulations and a statement in accordance with the provisions of section 10(4) of the Social Security Act 1980.
Other changes to the supplementary benefit scheme were announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget statement on 15 March. These will also require amending regulations to be made, and these will be referred separately to the committee as appropriate.