§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will instruct the Supplementary Benefits Commission to make a more specific application of the term "destitute" in dealing with claims benefits;
(2) what is the definition of "destitute" for social security purposes; and whether such definition precludes assistance being given by way of loan rather than grant.
§ Mr. Orme
Supplementary benefit is normally assessed by reference to the rules for the calculation of requirements and resources laid down by Schedule 2 to the Supplementary Benefit Act 1966. The Supplementary Benefits Commisssion has an overriding discretion under Section 13 of the Act to pay benefit in an urgent case, when the normal assessment rules may not be applied if they appear to be inappropriate in the circumstances of the case. The term "destitute" does not figure1034W in the legislation but the Commission has explained the circumstances in which Section 13 powers are used, in Paragraph 6 of the Supplementary Benefits Handbook a copy of which is in the Library. My right hon. Friend has no power to instruct the Commission in the use of its discretion. Where a payament under Section 13 is made to a person in full-time work, the Commission can determine that the whole or part shall be repaid.