asked the Minister of Health how many families are resident in London County Council rest centres; what is the present average family weekly payment; what is the increased average family weekly payment now demanded by the London County Council on behalf of his Department; and what new circumstances warrant this increase.
The number of families in residence at present is 505. The average family weekly payment on the old basis of charge was, for the week ended 19th February, £2 7s. 10d. This is for full board and lodging. The new charges come into force this week, but, as the L.C.C. have full discretion to reduce the amount of the increases to avoid hardship in individual cases, it is not yet possible to calculate the new average weekly charge. The reason for the increase is that the old charges were too low in relation to the cost of running the centres.
Is it fair to attempt to impose on these people, or on any who are suffering such hardship, an economic rent, as the economic rent should not be imposed on them unless they have some say in how the expenditure is incurred and there is much evidence to show that the expenditure is unwarrantable? It is not really fair, so will the right hon. Gentleman look into the matter?
There is no attempt to charge an economic rent, but the losses on these centres are exceedingly heavy. I think the hon. Member ought to wait the result of the rebates, when he will know whether the new charges are in fact very hard to bear.
Do the numbers my right hon. Friend has given include those at present lodged in institutions?
No, in rest centres.