§ Sir Peter Mills
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what guidance is given to the area office in the south-west in dealing with heating allowances in districts in the region with different climatic characteristics; and if, in particular, he will indicate guidance given in respect of (a) Plymouth and (b) Dartmoor.
§ Mr. Newton
The main guidance on determining entitlement to regular weekly heating additions under the supplementary benefit scheme is contained in the "S Manual", a copy of which is in the Library.
Revised guidance on assessing entitlement to single payments to meet the cost of extra fuel used because of a period of exceptionally severe weather was issued by the Chief Adjudication Officer on 6 December 1985.
On 27 February the Chief Adjudication Officer issued new guidance which highlights recent weather conditions and was expected to assist adjudication officers still considering their decision. The December guidance is already in the Library and I have placed a copy of this new advice there also. A period of exceptionally severe weather has now been designated in the great majority of local office areas, paving the way for help to be given to claimants with their extra fuel costs. Local offices have been asked to give this work priority.
Guidance is issued on a national basis, and does not vary between regions or individual local offices.