§ Mrs. Dunwoody
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the reasons for the regulations that provide that people on supplementary benefit who are fostering children have their allowances curtailed if they decide to adopt the child.
§ Mr. Newton
The regulations, which continue the policy of the former Supplementary Benefits Commission, reflect the principle that a foster child, who is not legally a member of the claimant's family, should not be treated as his or her dependent for benefit purposes, whereas an adopted child should be treated as a full member of the family in the normal way.
In consequence, the foster child's requirements and resources, including any fostering allowance paid to the family in respect of him or her, are disregarded entirely when assessing the family's supplementary benefit entitlement unless, exceptionally, the family fosters four children or more and receives a significant income through foster allowances, in which case a proportion of the foster allowance is taken into account as income. If a foster child is subsequently adopted, his or her requirements are aggregated with those of the rest of the family and any income received by the claimant in respect of the child, including adoption allowances payable under Section 32 of the Children Act 1975, will fall to be treated under the normal rules.
As I indicated in my reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East on 14 May—[Vol. 23, c. 337]—we have noted the concern that has been expressed on the way the supplementary benefit regulations will apply to a family in receipt of an adoption allowance, and my right hon. Friend is considering the points which have been made.
§ Dr. Roger Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list in the Official Report those persons who are eligible to be entitled to the long-term rate of supplementary benefits.
§ Mr. Newton
All supplementary pensioners are entitled to the long-term rate from the beginning of their claim. In addition, people under pensionable age are entitled to the long-term rate after they have received supplementary benefit continuously for 52 weeks, provided they are not required to register for work as a186W condition of receiving benefit. In effect, all claimants, except the unemployed under age 60, become eligible for the long-term rate after the 52 week qualifying period.