§ Mr. Frank Field
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make the ex gratia payment requested on behalf of Mr. Kevin McHugh, of 39 Harland road, Tranmere, Birkenhead, on the ground that the local office, although aware of his children's enemesis, had failed to consider or arrange for extra help with laundry costs and so on, which request was made in January 1984 and referred to his headquarters in December 1984.
§ Mr. Major
Mr. McHugh has received substantial arrears of supplementary benefit for additional requirements in respect of his children. The arrears were limited by the independent adjudication authorities to 52 weeks before the date of request for a review in accordance with the law. This is in line with the provisions for national insurance benefits. The relevant law was then regulation 4 of the Supplementary Benefit (Determination of Questions) Regulations 1980 and is now regulation 87 of the Social Security (Adjudication) Regulations 1984. I regret that the referral of Mr. McHugh's subsequent request for an ex-gratia payment for arrears beyond 52 weeks was overlooked. An ex-gratia payment, however, cannot be given because to do so in this and similar cases would undermine the decisions of the adjudication authorities and circumvent the intention of the law. However, I understand Mr. McHugh has now appealed to a social security appeal tribunal. Whether such an appeal is heard is a matter of discretion for the appeal tribunal596W chairman. Mr. McHugh is however entitled to compensation of over £25 on the arrears which have been paid and this will be paid to him shortly.