§ 20. Mr. Blenkinsop
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many extra heating allowances had been paid by the Supplementary Benefits Commission at the latest available date; and in how many cases this allowance is being paid in addition to the special long-term allowance.
§ Mr. Dean
At November, 1970, 196,000 allowances were in payment; and in 181,000 cases the long-term addition, which covers special needs up to the level of 50p a week, was payable as well. Further figures reflecting the recently improved levels of heating allowances will be available in the spring.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Is the Minister aware that in some cases of which I have evidence the extra allowance for heating is being denied because the long-term addition is being paid? Will he make 1093 clear his Department's welcome of the efforts made by bodies such as the trades council and others in my constituency to try to bring to the attention of old people the allowances available for them?
§ Mr. Dean
I am grateful for what the hon. Gentleman says. We are doing that in the review of benefits now taking place. Each book, each individual case, is being looked at carefully to see whether more help may be available. But the extra heating allowances are special allowances available over and above the long-term addition for those who have special needs for them.
§ Dame Irene Ward
This is a very important matter which has already been raised from the North. When will my hon. Friend be in a position to let us have some information? I am very grateful to him for the inquiries being made. Other people have been concerned with the matter for a considerable time.
Mr. R. C. Mitchell
Is there not a need for a big extension of the heating allowances to a much wider range of pensioners on supplementary benefit, particularly in view of the increase in the price of gas and electricity, and possibly of coal?
§ Mr. Fred Evans
Will the Minister bear in mind a report issued today by Task Force. In an examination in nine London boroughs of old people who are sadly in need of warmth, 27 per cent. declared that they do not get enough warmth by day and 20.9 per cent. that they do not get enough warmth by night, and of the 553 old people receiving supplementary benefit who were asked, only 10.7 per cent. were aware of their eligibility. Will the hon. Gentleman do something to try to cure the situation urgently?