HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc500-2W
Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to extend to foreign nationals resident in the United Kingdom who have rnade the necessary national insurance contributions the right to benefit when temporarily absent in another member state of the European Community; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rossi

A foreign national, who is not a national of another European Community member state, is not covered by the European Community regulations on social security for migrant workers. Whether benefit is payable to him when he is temporarily absent from the United Kingdom will depend on the provisions of any bilateral convention on social security between the United Kingdom and the member state involved.

If the right hon. Member has a specific situation in mind, and provides me with details, I shall send him a full reply.

Mr. Alfred Morris

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will amend regulation 18 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 1982 in order to allow local authorities to waive non-dependant deductions where a housing benefit claimant is receiving residential assistance from a close relative; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rossi

Under regulation 22 of the Housing Benefit Regulations local authorities already have discretion in standard cases to grant additional amounts of housing benefit, if they consider that the tenant's circumstances are exceptional. Discretion exists to add back the amount of the non-dependant deduction made under regulation 18. Regulation 18 of the Housing Benefit Regulations 1982 provides that no deduction shall be made in a certificated case where a non-dependant is giving residential assistance. This carries forward a provision which existed in the supplementary benefit scheme prior to the introduction of housing benefit. There is no equivalent provision for standard cases, and none existed under the old rebate and allowance schemes.

Mr. Woodall

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what special benefits are provided for ex-Far East prisoners of war for suffering and privation; what is the take-up of these benefits; and if he will give more publicity to the extra benefits so provided.

Mr. Rossi

Ex-far eastern prisoners of war are entitled to the full range of war pensions provision for any disablement due to their service. In addition the Department arranges, on request, a special hospital checkup to ascertain whether or not the ex-prisoner of war is suffering from a tropical disease. It is not possible to say what the take-up rate is, but these arrangements have been substantially expanded recently, the investigation centres being increased from three to 10, and over 1,100 ex-prisoners of war availed themselves of the facility in 1982. There has already been considerable publicity. More will be considered as appropriate. I keep in close touch with the ex-service organisations, notably the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoner of War Clubs and Associations, on these matters.

Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many people were in receipt of invalidity benefit in the Hull travel-to-work area in each quarter for the past five years;

(2) how many people taken off invalidity benefit in the Hull travel-to-work area over the past four years had a wife or husband or other person with whom they were sharing a household in full time or casual employment.

Mr. Rossi

I regret that the information is not available.

Mr. McNamara

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people were called for examination by his Department's doctors at the Government Buildings, Spring Bank, Hull; and how many were subsequently recommended to lose their invalidity benefit, in each quarter for the past four years, to the most convenient date, being expressed both as a percentage and absolute figure.

Mr. Rossi

The Department's regional medical service gives an opinion on fitness for work and the independent statutory authorities decide whether invalidity benefit should cease to be payable. Records of those called for examination are only retained for two years and at Government Buildings, Spring Bank, Hull these totalled 5,617 for the past two years.

Information on the ultimate outcome could be obtained only by naming each claimant and tracing outcomes on an idividual basis and collated information per quarter per year is not available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will estimate the level to which children's rates of supplementary benefit would be increased by an increase in expenditure of £395 million;

(2) if he is now able to provide a substantive reply to the question of the hon. Member for Birkenhead to which he gave a holding answer on 31 March, Official Report, c. 261.

Mr. Newton

[pursuant to his reply, 31 March 1983, c. 261]: If an increase in expenditure of £395 million were used solely to increase by a standard amount the supplementary benefit scale rates for dependent children, including children aged 16 or over, the rates could be increased by £4.15 a week. This figure is based upon provisional estimates of the number of dependent children in families in receipt of supplementary benefit in December 1982 and an estimate of the number of additional claims which would be attracted by an increase in the children's scale rates, based on an analysis of the 1979 family expenditure survey.

No allowance has been made for the cost of any consequential increases in the other scale rates. If the scale rates for dependent children aged 16 or over were increased by £4.15 a week they would be higher than the rates for non-householder claimants of that age, and the rate for a dependent child aged 18 would be only £1 less than the rate for a single householder.