HC Deb 02 April 1987 vol 113 cc615-6W
Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if local social security officers are able to make payments to claimants whose carpets are destroyed by flooding or fire and who are in receipt of supplementary benefit.

Mr. Lyell

Where a claimant is affected by a disaster — for example, a fire or a flood — and satisfies the provisions of regulation 8 of the Supplementary Benefit (Urgent Cases) Regulations, then a payment may be considered for miscellaneous furniture and household equipment needs, which could include a carpet. It is for the independent adjudication authorities to determine in any individual case whether a disaster has occurred and if a payment is appropriate; and that decision is subject to the claimant's right of appeal to the social security appeal tribunal.

Mr. Robert Atkins

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether any new information is available on the payment of supplementary benefit to people in residental care and nursing homes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lyell

New figures have just become available on the number of people in private and voluntary residential care and nursing homes claiming supplementary benefit. Provisional results of the quarterly statistical Inquiry of February 1986 show that there were 90,000 people in private and voluntary residential care and nursing homes being helped by supplementary benefit compared to 42,000 in December 1984. There have been suggestions that the supplementary benefit limits for residential care and nursing homes are too low and that people without means of their own can no longer get places in homes. The question is kept under close review but these latest figures certainly do not support such a contention.

The provisional estimates also show that in February 1986 the total cost of the supplementary benefit element of support for people in homes was ?459 million with an average weekly payment of ?98.08. The increase in average payments is broadly in line with increases in the benefit limits during the period December 1984 to February 1986.

We also now have the preliminary results from the pilot studies, conducted under the auspices of the social policy research unit at the University of York to test the feasibility of assessing the care needs of benefit claimants in private and voluntary residential care homes. The vast majority, 93 per cent, were assessed as needing residential care at the time of admission to the home given the alternative services then available. The assessors were also asked to consider whether residents would have needed residential care if additional services had been available. They considered that if additional ordinary services such as sheltered housing or day care had been available, 90 per cent, would have needed residential care, and that even if more intensive services, such as full-time companion or night sitting service, had been available, residential care would have been needed in 83 per cent, of cases.

The results of the pilot studies need to be used carefully. They are being considered by the joint central and local government working party which is currently looking at the question of harmonisation of financial support for people in residential care and are relevant to the overall review of community care being carried out by Sir Roy Griffiths.