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Volume 978: debated on Thursday 7 February 1980

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Mr. Kilfedder asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he

(a) Living alone£23·70* plus rent
Living alone (if blind)£24·95* plus rent
(b) Living in a Health and Social Service Board home or in a voluntary home which has an arrangement with a Board.£23·30
(c) Living as a boarder, e.g. in a private dwelling houseThe board and lodging charge plus £6·85
(d) Living with a family to whom the pensioner is not related(i) As at (c) if a boarder.
(ii) £20·65* (£26·65* if blind) if a member of the household.
* An additional 25p is payable at age 80.
Up to a reasonable figure.

Weekly additions may be made in certain circumstances—for example, for extra heating or a special diet; and pensioners living at or about supplementary pension level may receive other assistance such as free dental and optical treatment and a refund of fares when attending hospital for treatment.

In addition, a comprehensive range of health and personal social services and facilities is also available to pensioners and provides help in a wide variety of individual circumstances whether the pensioner concerned lives in a statutory or voluntary home or lives elsewhere in the

year since 1969; and how many are expected to be in attendance at the colleges in 1980–81.

Official Report the arrangements, including the scales of assistance, for helping pensioners who are ( a) living alone; ( b) living in a voluntary or statutory home; ( c) living as a paying guest in a private dwelling house and ( d) living with a family to whom the pensioner is not related.

The minimum scales of assistance available to single pensioners are the following weekly supplementary pension rates:community alone or with a family, or as a paying guest in a private house.The services include medical, nursing, social work and supportive services such as home help, meals, laundry and warden services; the facilities include hospitals, health centres, day centres, social centres, lunch clubs and old people's clubs.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will consider the introduction of a scale of assistance for pensioners, in relation to both gas and electricity, which would allow them to use a certain amount per month free of charge for heating and lighting, whether entitled to supplementary benefit or not.

The Government are currently reviewing existing measures for assisting people on low incomes with their fuels costs and the hon. Member's suggestion has been noted.