§ Mrs. Beckett
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether any guidance is given to his Department regarding a maximum permissible deduction from benefit for fuel or other debts; and if he will make a statement;586W
(2) whether any fresh guidance has recently been given to officers of his Department about levels of deduction from benefit for fuel debts; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Whitney
The maximum deduction which may be made from a claimant's supplementary benefit for a fuel or housing debt is laid down in the Supplementary Benefit (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1981. The chief adjudication officer's guidance on the interpretation of the regulations concerned is published in Part 9 of the S manual, a copy of which is in the Library. Local offices have recently been given procedural instructions on the proposed introduction of a microcomputer system to handle deductions for fuel debts but the guidance on levels of deduction has not been changed.
Sums may also be deducted from a claimant's benefit to recover an urgent need payment or an overpayment of benefit, and maximum deductions are laid down in the Supplementary Benefit (Urgent Cases) Regulations 1981 and the Supplementary Benefit (Duplication and Overpayment) Regulations 1980 respectively. Instructions on this are issued by my right hon. Friend to local office staff.