§ Mr. Irving
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what criteria are employed by his Department's local offices when deciding the standard, facilities and cost of furnished accommodation for single homeless persons; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what instructions he has issued to his Department's local offices with regard to their discretion to offer single
1979 1983 (provisional) Speciality Average daily number of available beds Available beds per 1,000* population Average daily number of available beds Available beds per 1,000* population Blackburn, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley health authority Paediatrics 36 0.6 58 1.0 Acute surgical 411 1.5 416 1.5 Acute medical 294 1.1 278 1.0 Geriatrics 337 7.9 335 8.1
homeless persons, who have obtained unfurnished council or other accommodation, either (a) furnished accommodation or (b) a furniture grant plus rent assistance; and if he will make a statement.
§ Dr. Boyson
The independent adjudicating authorities do not have discretion to offer furnished accommodation or payments for rent or furniture. They are required to decide, on the basis of the relevant regulations, on claims for weekly or single payments of supplementary benefit. Guidance on the interpretation of the regulations is issued by the chief adjudication officer, not my right hon. Friend, in the form of the S manual (a copy of which is in the Library) and occasional circulars.
A single homeless person who obtains furnished board and lodging accommodation may be eligible for supplementary benefit to enable him to meet the charge made and the cost of any meals not provided, subject to a locally determined limit which reflects a reasonable charge for the area concerned. Questions of accommodation standards are a matter for local authorities rather than for the supplementary benefits scheme: if local office staff visit an establishment where there seems to them to be cause for concern about standards, they are expected to draw this to the attention of the local authority.
Single payments for essential furniture and household equipment may be made to people moving into unfurnished or partly furnished accommodation. For certain categories of claimants, however, including single people in good general health, such payments can he made only if no suitable alternative furnished accommodation is available. Guidance on the interpretation of the provision was issued recently by the chief adjudication officer and a copy is in the Library (circular S/8/84).