§ Mr. Forth
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what are the reasons for the withdrawal of state benefits from those with savings over £2,500 irrespective of their contribution records;
(2) if he will make equal benefits available to all regardless of the level of their savings; and if he will make a statement.
§ Dr. Boyson
Of the social security benefits, only supplementary benefit can be affected by the level of a person's savings as such. Supplementary benefit is not payable where a claimant's capital resources exceed £2,500. This limit is to be raised to £3,000 with effect from 21 November.
Unlike the national insurance benefits, entitlement to supplementary benefit does not depend on the payment of contributions. Supplementary benefit is a means-related scheme and has always reflected the general principle that above a certain level capital should be assumed to be available to be drawn upon for living expenses before benefit becomes payable.
§ Mr. Conway
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the reason for the campaign by his Department's Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne centre, which is sending leaflets to pensioners and claimants urging them to use banking rather than local post office facilities for the collection of pensions and other benefits; what is the estimated total cost of the campaign; if he will publish a list of the categories of individuals who are being sent such leaflets; and if he will make a statement.
§ Dr. Boyson
One of the changes being introduced as part of the Government's moves to make the social security system more efficient and more secure is the payment of certain benefits, on request, direct to bank and building society accounts by credit transfer. To bring this alternative method of payment to the notice of all eligible500W beneficiaries who may wish to make use of it, the Department's central offices at Newcastle upon Tyne and North Fylde will be writing to about 10 million recipients of retirement pension, widow's benefit, mobility allowance, child benefit, war pension and attendance allowance.
The total cost of these invitation exercises is expected to be about £2 million. The savings likely to be achieved from operating the new method of payment are exepcted to be significantly in excess of that.