asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will explain the reason for three different rates of fuel allowance to persons drawing supplementary benefit; and if she will take steps to simplify these rates to one single standard rate.
Provision for normal expenditure on fuel is included in the supplementary benefit scale rates laid down by Parliament. The extra heating additions are a matter for the Supplementary Benefits Commission, who recognise that some beneficiaries need to spend more on heating because they are in poor health, have restricted mobility or accommodation which is damp or difficult to heat. The three standard rates provide the flexibility which is essential to take account of a variety of individual circumstances and the fact that conditions may be more severe in some cases than in others. The commission's criteria are set out in Leaflet OC2, a copy of which I have placed in the Library.