asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the value of the special allowance for blind persons compared with its value when introduced in 1948; and if she will make a statement.
The special scale rates applicable to blind persons in 1948 were £1·95 for a single person, £2·75 for a married couple one of whom was blind, and £3·25 for a married couple who were both blind. To maintain 1948 values the rates would need to be £7·65, £10·78 and £12·74 respectively. As at April 1975 these rates were £13·25, £20·10 and £20·90 respectively for those blind people—the majority—who qualify for the long-term rates and £10·85, £16·90 and £17·70 respectively for others. In 1948 the blind scale rates exceeded the ordinary rates by 75p for a single person or a married couple one of whom was blind, and £1·25 for a married couple both of whom were blind. These margins in 1975 terms would be £2·94 and £4·90 respectively. The
would be the basic component pension payable and the additional component pension payable on the day of commencement of the scheme and 5, 10, 15 and 20 years after to men with a constant record of average earnings retiring, respectively, at its commencement and 5, 10, 15 and 20 years after.
On the assumption that upratings under the new scheme take place annually in October, that the new scheme comes into force in an April and that the uprating in the previous October, being related to increases in earnings which resulted in average male earnings reaching £60 a week, raised the basic component—£11·60 in the Bill—by a comparable percentage, the following is the information:margins, currently £1·25 and £2·05 respectively, are to meet the special expenses due to blindness of the great majority of claimants. Where such expenses do exceed the appropriate margin additional provision may be made.