§ Mr. Skinner
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will take steps to introduce a weekly £7 heating allowance to all pensioners; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Whitney
No. It would cost about £3 billion to give a weekly £7 heating allowance to all pensioners 527W regardless of need. 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. More than 90 per cent. of supplementary pensioners now have a heating addition, as well as getting the higher long-term rate of supplementary benefit which is worth £7.65 a week more for a single householder and £11.55 more for a couple than the ordinary rate.