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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Supplementary Benefit

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Supplementary Benefit on 10th March 1987.


Mr. Holt Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he proposes to make any changes in the Supplementary Benefit (Requirements) Regulations.

Mr. Major We propose to make three small changes in the Supplementary Benefit (Requirements) Regulations dealing with claimants in residential care and nursing homes.

Since the beginning of the supplementary benefit scheme the policy has been that all charges levied by nursing and residential care home owners or proprietors should be treated together as the board and lodging charge. Recent legal advice has however cast doubts on this long-standing interpretation. We propose, therefore, to amend the regulations to give clear effect to the original policy intention that people in residential care and nursing homes should not be entitled to additional requirements which relate to items which normal charges may be expected to cover, such as heating, extra baths and laundry. At the same time we propose to amend the regulations to ensure that charges for these items can be included with the board and lodging charge. For claimants who are currently getting these additional requirements there will be transitional protection to safeguard their overall benefit entitlement.

Secondly, we propose to correct an unintended effect in regulation 9(18) of the requirements regulations. This regulation allows transitionally protected claimants an increase in benefit of up to a maximum of £10 to help meet any increase in fees since April 1985. As currently drafted the regulation would allow some claimants to get an increase of more than £10 at the next up-rating. However, at future up-ratings the same claimants would lose that increase and the amount of benefit in payment to them would be reduced. The proposed amendment would restore the original policy intention.

Thirdly, we propose to clarify the supplementary benefit provisions governing local authority residential accommodation set up under the National Health Service Act 1977 so that it more accurately reflects the diversity of provision that local authorities are now making. Regulations will make it clear that the part III rate should only apply to residential accommodation provided by local authorities where full board is available and which is not a hostel.

The social security advisory committee has agreed that the proposed amendments do not need to be referred to them. These amendments will be included in the uprating regulations for the supplementary benefit residential care and nursing home limits which will be laid before the House shortly.