asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has considered the responses received following the publication of the supplementary benefits review consultative document "Boarders and People in Residential Accommodation"; and if he will make a statement.
The consultative document "Boarders and People in Residential Accommodation" was issued last September as part of the second stage of the supplementary benefit review. The document presented a wide range of options in a comprehensive review of a complex subject. Twenty-nine organisations responded to the invitation for views. Consideration of these has been governed by two main factors—the need to keep the supplementary benefit review changes within existing expenditure, and the respective responsibilities of central and local government for those who are in need of care and attention.The main subject discussed in the document was the rate of supplementary benefit for people in residential accommodation. At present this varies according to whether or not the person needs care and attention and is the responsibility of the local authority. There was a variety of views among those consulted. Present financial constraints rule out the possibility of any major shift of responsibility for the maintenance of these people or any general increase in their personal allowance, and we therefore conclude that no change should be made. We agree that, for supplementary benefit purposes, the resources of people in residential accommodation should be treated in the same way as the resources of others on supplementary benefit. As regards those in local authority care, we are considering separately the treatment of their resources for the purpose of determining the appropriate level of charge.As regards boarders on supplementary benefit, there was extensive support for the suggestion that the maximum board and lodging charge accepted for supplementary benefit purposes should be determined locally, but on the basis of standard guidelines. We agree, and this is being put into effect. We intend no change in the way in which the maximum is increased by set amounts for the claimant who is elderly or infirm or who would otherwise qualify for the long-term rate of supplementary benefit.Considerations of cost rule out any substantial increase in the personal allowances for boarders. But from November a married couple in lodgings will get twice the amount of the single boarder's personal allowance. At present they get less than this. The single boarder's personal allowance is also being increased slightly in real terms in November.As regards young people aged 16 or over in care, there was substantial support for the suggestion that they should be eligible for supplementary benefit whether in a local authority home or not. We agree, and this will take effect from November. These young people will be assessed for benefit purposes in the same way as the young person living at home.