HC Deb 28 November 1991 vol 199 cc589-90W
Mr. Illsley

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security for what reasons it was decided to downgrade social security benefits of a claimant after a period of hospital in-patient care of six weeks but to allow benefits to remain unchanged for up to 12 months for those claimants admitted to residential or nursing care.

Miss Widdecombe

Most social security benefits are reduced after six weeks of free in-patient treatment in hospital. These arrangements are based on the view that state funds should not make double provision for the same need. As the national health service provides free maintenance as well as free treatment, it has always been the policy that maintenance benefits paid from state funds should not continue to be paid in full indefinitely.

By contrast, people who enter residential care homes or nursing homes do not receive free maintenance from public funds, but have to pay for the services provided by the home. For this reason, most benefits other than income support are not affected by admission to such homes. Because income support provides assistance with the fees for residential or nursing care, the amount of benefit that can be paid is normally amended as soon as the claimant incurs such fees. However, the temporary admission of one partner to residential or nursing care may have no effect on the amount of benefit that can be paid if to pay for each partner as separate individuals would result in the couple's benefit entitlement being reduced. This arrangement can last for up to 12 months, after which time the couple are assessed separately.