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Public Assistance

Volume 387: debated on Tuesday 2 March 1943

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asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether it is proposed to revise the present scales of public assistance, in the light of the increase in the cost of living?

The amount of assistance is fixed by the local authority, subject to the right of the applicant to complain to the Department of Health if he is dissatisfied with the amount or nature of the assistance offered to him. I am advised that most, if not all, local authorities take into account changes in the cost of living in fixing the amount of public assistance to be granted.

Will my right hon. Friend review the scales of local authorities, particularly those for married couples, in order to ensure that there is no case in which a local authority in Scotland is paying a rate which is below subsistence level?

As my hon. Friend is well aware, scales of relief are not recognised by the Poor Law. Many local authorities do, however, for their own convenience, fix local scales, and these scales are generally revised from time to time in accordance with the cost of living.

Will my right hon. Friend satisfy himself that in every case the rates paid are reasonable, and communicate with the local authority in any case where he thinks they are not making a reasonable payment?

As I have repeatedly informed the hon. Member, the Poor Law recognises no scales of relief whatever, and if he will give me particulars of any case in which a local authority pays unduly low amounts, I will look into it.