§ 30. Mr. William Hamilton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has for increasing the value of disregards in assessing claims for supplementary benefits.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Security (Mr. Norman Pentland)
I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the main amounts of disregard specified in the Ministry of Social Security Act. There are 17 no plans at present for increases in these amounts; such increases would only benefit those who are already living above the normal supplementary benefit levels.
§ Mr. Hamilton
Could my hon. Friend say whether these disregards will be looked at when the supplementary benefits are increased in the autumn? Is he aware, for instance, that the derisory increase of £1 a week in pension to miners is being inhibited by the knowledge that if the pension is increased a consequent amount will be deducted from the supplementary benefit?
§ Mr. Pentland
I am aware of my hon. Friend's concern, but he will agree that the present disregard means that the retired miners who have an occupational pension and are on supplementary benefit already are £1 a week better off than the person without the disregarded income? If we extend disregards too far it will undermine the main purpose of the supplementary benefit scheme, which seeks to bring people's other resources up to a guaranteed level. Furthermore, it will not help the poorest people who are on supplementary benefit.
§ Mr. Pentland
Any increases in that direction will operate, as they have always operated in the past, under the supplementary benefit scheme.