§ Mr. Stephen Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she has any proposals to assist retirement pensioners with the cost of installation and maintenance of a telephone.
§ Mr. Alfred Morris
It is open to local authorities to use their powers under Section 45 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to assist in the provision of a telephone where this is considered necessary in the interests of the welfare of an elderly person. Under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970, local authorities have a duty to provide such assistance if the person is substantially and permanently handicapped and they are satisfied of the need. The Supplementary Benefits Commission will consider help with telephone expenses where a supplementary pensioner living alone is housebound and must rely on the telephone as a means of contact in an emergency.