§ Mr. Tom Cox
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has had from Age Concern about granting a special heating allowance to elderly and disabled people; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Newton
We received a representation from the director of Age Concern on 26 February asking the Government to declare that exceptionally severe weather had occurred nationally and to instruct local DHSS offices to make payments to those eligible. Ministers have no power to do this: the decision whether, for the purposes of the relevant single payments regulation, there has been a period of exceptionally severe weather in any particular area is one for the local adjudication officer, in the light of local weather conditions. I am glad to say, however, that adjudication officers in the majority of local offices have now decided that the weather in their areas has been exceptionally severe.