HC Deb 25 November 1983 vol 49 cc337-8W
Mr. Hunter

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report the criteria under which single parents with children, including widowed mothers, are eligible for (a) free school meals for the children, (b) extra needs' allowances and (c) help with heating bills; and if he will indicate the income level at which a widowed mother with two children, aged five years and one year, respectively, would cease to qualify for each benefit.

Dr. Boyson

The information is as follows:

Free school meals

All children at school whose parents are receiving supplementary benefit or family income supplement are entitled automatically to receive free school meals. For other children, local authorities have discretion over the provision of free school meals and different authorities use a number of different income levels to determine entitlement.

Supplementary benefit additional requirements and help with heating.

Single parents with children who receive supplementary benefit may be entitled to have certain additions, known as additional requirements, included in the calculation of their benefit. These can cover a number of special needs, including the need for additional heating. The detailed arrangements are set out in chapter 4 of the "Supplementary Benefit Handbook", copies of which are available in the Library. All householders are entitled to an additional requirement for heating if they have one or more children under five years of age.

Single payments to meet fuel debts,

Single payments of supplementary benefit to help meet fuel bills can be made only in very limited circumstances; in particular, where the claimant's fuel bill is greater than the amount she has set aside for it because either she is unfamiliar with a new fuel or heating system or there has been a period of exceptionally severe weather resulting in higher consumption than normal.

Income level at which entitlement to benefit ceases

It is not possible to provide information about the level of income at which a widowed mother with children aged five and one years would cease to qualify for free school meals because the test of income varies between one local authority and another.

The same family would cease to be entitled to supplementary benefit if income, after allowing for appropriate disregards, exceeded:

For a householder entitled to the long-term rate *54.45
For a householder entitled to the ordinary rate *47.15
For a non-householder entitled to the long-term rate *45.55
For a non-householder entitled to the ordinary rate *39.75
* Plus housing requirements and any additional requirements over and above the automatic heating addition for a child under 5.