§ Mr. Bidwell
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if his Department has any plans this winter to safeguard old people against cold weather and to supply heating to all homes where old people live.
§ Dr. Boyson
The Government are doing a great deal to help poor people generally to afford adequate heating. Supplementary benefit scale rates have more than kept pace with increase in the cost of living and heating additions, given to those who need extra warmth, including 90 per cent. of pensioners on supplementary benefit, have increased in value by 140 per cent. since November 1978 compared with a rise in fuel prices of about 100 per cent.
Supplementary pensioners who need them may qualify for extra payments for space heaters, bedding and hot water bottles, draught-proofing materials, and hot water tank lagging jackets.
Pensioners on low incomes can also qualify for 90 per cent. grants for loft insulation under the homes insulation scheme. Professionals and others caring for elderly people will be aware of the possible risks to health posed by cold weather.
The Health Education Council, which is funded by the DHSS, has published a booklet called "Keeping Warm in Winter" which contains advice on ways to reduce the risks in cold weather, including advice on diet and clothing.