HC Deb 30 June 1998 vol 315 c151W
Jackie Ballard

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what plans she has to allow the reclaiming of expenses for hospital visits by spouses whose income is at the level of income support; [48083]

(2) if she will review the problems faced in meeting the costs of attending specialist hospitals by families whose income is just above income support levels. [48084]

Mr. Denham

Social fund community care grants can be paid to people on Income Support or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance to help with travelling expenses to visit a partner in hospital. Any award is subject to the level of priority which can be sustained from the district budget, and the circumstances of the particular case. Grants for visits to a child in hospital would normally be given a high priority.

In addition, social fund crisis loans can be paid to people, whether on benefit or not, where the applicant needs help with fares to hospital for treatment for the applicant or a member of their family. Such a payment would have to be the only means of preventing serious risk or serious damage to the applicant or a member of their family. The Hospital Travel Costs Scheme, administered by the Department of Health, provides financial help to patients in receipt of Income Support and, where deemed medically necessary, an escort for travel to hospital for treatment under the care of a consultant.