§ Mr. Walters
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to allow claims for heating allowance by pensioners and other benefit recipients to be considered when the claimant is not in receipt of supplementary benefit.
§ Mr. Whitney
No. It would cost well over £500 million just to give basic rate supplementary benefit heating additions to pensioners not in receipt of supplementary benefit. The best way to use the available resources is to concentrate on helping those most in need by maintaining or increasing so far as possible the value of supplementary benefit rates. Between November 1978 and November 1984 the real value of the main rates of supplementary benefit increased by about 6 per cent. and over the same period the basic rate of heating addition increased by about 147 per cent. compared with an increase in fuel prices of about 108 per cent. We expect to spend some £400 million on heating additions this financial year, which is about £140 million more in real terms than was spent in 1978–79.
§ Mr. Robert Hughes
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the daily temperature in the city of Aberdeen during the period 21 January to 28 January as reported to his Department for the purpose of assessing eligibility for single payment heating allowance.
§ Mr. Whitney
The information provided for the chief adjudication officer by the Meteorological Office for the purpose of operating regulation 26 of the Supplementary Benefit (Single Payments) Regulations is expressed in degree days for calendar weeks ending on Saturday. A degree day is the daily difference in degrees between a base temperature level at which it is estimated a building requires heating (15.5°C) and the 24 hour mean outside temperture. It is widely used as a measure of temperature over time. The total of degree days for the week ending Saturday 26 January for the weather station at Aberdeen (Dyce) was 110.2. This represents an average temperature over the week of -0.24°C.