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Outdoor Relief

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that the guardians of the Brentford Union have fixed a maximum scale of outdoor relief of 9s. per week for a man, a similar amount for his wife, and 5s. per week for each child under 16 years of age, with a maximum gross grant of 50s. a week; whether, in many cases, the recipients of outdoor relief are unemployed ex-service men residing in the Ealing and Hanwell districts; if the local branch of the British Legion Unity Relief Fund recently received a small grant from Lord Haig's Fund in order to help acute cases of distress among families of ex-service men; if the head office of the British Legion Unity Relief Fund strongly advise local committees that the fund should apply only to exceptional cases of distress of ex-service men and their families; if a grant of 3s. each was made for two weeks to a number of unemployed ex-service men and their wives, each case being carefully investigated by the local committee; whether, in the following week, the guardians of the Brentford Union reduced the amount of outdoor relief to a number of unemployed ex-service men on account of the small grant received from Lord Haig's Fund; if on 2nd November, after receiving a deputation from the Ealing and Hanwell unemployed ex-service men, the guardians of the Brent-ford Union, by the chairman's casting vote, decided that in future cases the full amount of grants received from the British Legion Unity Relief Fund and the United Services Fund should be deducted from any outdoor relief paid to unemployed ex-service men; and, since Lord Haig's Fund was voluntarily raised to deal specially with urgent cases of distress amongst ex-service men, will he call the attention of the Brentford Union to the matter and ask that the small grant received from Lord Haig's Fund to ex-service men shall not be taken as a cause for the reduction in the scale of outdoor relief and that the same principle be applied to any grant made to cases of acute distress among unemployed ex-service men from the United Services Fund, which is used solely for exceptional cases of hardship amongst ex-service men and their families and cannot in any way be taken as applying to ordinary outdoor relief cases as dealt with by the guardians?

In view of the law on the subject, I have no authority to give any such directions as are suggested, but I will see whether it is possible for any arrangement to be made for meeting the difficulty referred to.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also consider the case of private contributions which are raised in the locality for the relief of the unemployed, and request the guardians not to take such subscriptions into account in granting relief?

I have no power to instruct the guardians, but I dill consider the question.

In view of the widespread complaints that have been made about these grants being taken into consideration, and having in mind that they are only given in selected cases of destitute ex-service men with large families, will the right hon. Gentleman specifically issue instructions that in these exceptional cases the grants be not taken into account?

I have already pointed out that I have no power to give instructions. The boards of guardians are by law compelled to take into consideration all sources of income and to exercise their discretion. I have no power to give instructions to the boards of guardians in the direction indicated. I will see, however, whether some arrangement can be made.