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Supplementary Benefit Recipients (Home-Help Charges)

Volume 981: debated on Monday 24 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what advice he is giving to the local authority associations to ensure that people in receipt of supplementary benefits are not made to pay home-help charges for which additional payments of supplementary benefit are to be ruled out by the regulations he intends to make under the provisions of the Social Security Bill; what representations he has received on this matter; what reply he has sent; and if he will make a statement.

The local authority associations have been informed that, in the Government's view, local authorities' discretionary power to charge for home helps should not be exercised in respect of people living at the supplementary benefit level; and that if charges are levied, they should be at such a rate as can be met from supplementary benefit without causing hardship.What lies behind the intention to make regulations, the effect of which the right hon. Gentleman describes, is the avoidance of illusory public expenditure savings: a situation where the local authority gains extra revenue, but the result is to increase central government expenditure through the supplementary benefits scheme.The Supplementary Benefits Commission supports this view, particularly on account of the need for a rational division of responsibility between the personal social services and the supplementary benefits scheme. The Commission has therefore decided that, with effect from 29 February 1980, it will make no further additions to weekly benefit in respect of local authority home-help charges. People paid additions before 29 February will retain them at least until November. The local authority associations have been informed of this decision.