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Special Needs (Voluntary Assistance)

Volume 530: debated on Monday 19 July 1954

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15.

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to what extent the National Assistance Board invites voluntary organisations to help recipients of National Assistance meet needs such as clothing and bedding.

The National Assistance Board tells me that its general policy, which has not changed since the matter was reviewed in its report for 1949, is to welcome the co-operation of the voluntary organisations in cases presenting special problems. It has no record of the number of cases involved.

While not wishing in any way to denigrate the splendid work of the voluntary organisations, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, to the extent to which they are being asked to co-operate, it is not a reflection either on the inadequacy of the Assistance Board's scales or the inadequacy of the discretionary powers given to the Board's officers?

No. I do not think so. I think that if the hon. Member will refer to the 1949 report of the Assistance Board, he will see that, by enlisting the aid of voluntary bodies, the Board is able to confer substantial benefits in certain types of cases in which it would not be justified in increasing any grant itself.