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1979-1987 : Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Funeral and Maternity Payments

Below is the text of Mr Major's written Parliamentary Answer on Funeral and Maternity Payments on 17th December 1986.


Mr. Andrew MacKay Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will announce the arrangement for the introduction of funeral and maternity payments under the social fund.

Mr. Major We have laid before Parliament regulations which provide for payments to be made from the social fund to people on low incomes - whether in or out of work - for maternity and funeral expenses.

The regulations replace the existing provisions for maternity and funeral expenses made by the maternity and death grants of £25 and £30 respectively and the relevant supplementary benefit single payments for maternity and funeral needs. The new arrangements extend entitlement to people in low paid work as well as supplementary benefit claimants. Under these arrangements a maternity payment of £80 will be made for each new or adopted baby if the claimant or his/her partner is in receipt of supplementary benefit or family income supplement. For funerals, the full cost of a reasonable funeral will be paid if the claimant or his/her partner is in receipt of supplementary benefit, family income supplement, or housing benefit.

As with the existing supplementary benefit single payments scheme, any savings of over £500 held by the claimant or his family will be taken into account for both types of payment, the excess being offset against the amount paid. For funerals, provision is also made to take account of any of the assets of the deceased which are available to the claimant, when calculating the amount of any sum due. Any contribution made by another towards the cost of the funeral will also be taken into account. From April 1988, when a lump sum of £1,000 for widows will replace widows' allowance, amended regulations will ensure that this sum is disregarded for recent widows who need to claim either a maternity or funeral payment.

These regulations, the Social Fund Maternity and Funeral Expenses (General) Regulations 1986 and the Social Fund Maternity and Funeral Expenses (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1986, are made under sections 32(2) and 51(1) of the Social Security Act 1986 and will take effect from 6 April 1987. They include a number of consequential amendments to other regulations which arise out of these provisions. The regulations have not been referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee since, by virtue of section 61(5) of the Act, reference is not necessary for regulations made within twelve months of the Act coming into force.

Claim forms incorporating explanatory notes will be available to the public in the normal way from the middle of March 1987 onwards.