HC Deb 16 July 1984 vol 64 cc78-9W
Mr. Ernie Ross

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will seek to raise the level of the following benefits so that they maintain in real terms their value in May 1979; widows' benefit, invalidity benefit, maternity allowance, Christmas bonus, maternity grant and attendance allowance.

Dr. Boyson

Widows benefit and attendance allowance have more than maintained their values in real terms since May 1979.

The Government are firmly committed to restoring the 1980 abatement of invalidity benefit as soon as that benefit is brought into tax. When maternity allowance is brought into tax we shall look again at the restoration of the abatement of that benefit, taking account of the economic and other circumstances prevailing at the time.

As far as maternity grant is concerned we take the view that priority must be given to the weekly benefits which are intended to cover day to day living expenses. However we are currently carrying out a review of the financial provision for maternity and this, of course, includes the question of the maternity grant.

This Government made the Christmas bonus a permanent feature of the social security system but, given the competing pressures on the social security budget, an increase in the amount of the bonus cannot be a high priority at present.