§ Mrs. Chalker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost of extending entitlement to supplementary benefit to a married woman, claiming in her own right, or for herself and her children separately, from a personal claim by her husband.
§ Mr. Orme
To allow one member of a married couple to claim supplementary benefit without regard to the requirements and resources of the other would be out of step with our society's attitudes to marriage and the family and inconsistent with the scheme's purpose, which is to provide a minimum income for people who are not in full-time work. My Department has not therefore made any detailed estimates of the cost involved. But such a change would be extremely expensive in terms both of benefit paid and administrative costs; would significantly increase the number of people entitled to benefit; and would lead to considerable inequities. The review of the supplementary benefit scheme announced last September by my right hon. Friend will however, be examining the consequences of extending to married women identical treatment with their husbands in making a claim for supplementary benefit on the continued basis of aggregating their requirements and resources.