§ Dr. Vaughan
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans the Supplementary Benefits Commission has for improving the provision made for those with special needs for extra heating.211W
§ Sir K. Joseph
The Commission has proposed, and I am glad to agree, that the discretionary additions given to those with special needs for extra heating, because they are in poor health or bad accommodation, should be revised. At present the weekly additions are based upon the local price of ¼ cwt. of coal, or ½ cwt. in more serious cases, and the average amounts are 4s. and 8s. respectively. In future, there will be three rates of 5s., 10s. and 15s. a week on a nation-wide basis, and these amounts will be varied automatically by reference to the fuel components of the Retail Price Index. The Commission also proposes to apply wider criteria so that these discretionary additions will benefit rather more people in future, though they will continue to apply only to those in special need of extra heating. Normal heating requirements will continue to be met by the basic scale-rates, which were increased on 2nd November. The cost of the improvement is expected to be about £3½ million in a full year.
Conversion to the new rates will involve the reassessment of the individual cases of all those recipients of supplementary benefits who are known to have exceptional needs for heating. It will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the end of June, 1971.