asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report the number of exceptional needs payments made in the last year for which figures are available to persons not entitled to supplementary benefit on a weekly basis, the cost of such payments, and the proportion of total expenditure on supplementary benefit which this represented; and if he will make a statement on the Social Security Advisory Committee's recommendation that there should be a limited extension of eligibility for supplementary benefit single payments to defined categories of people who are not on supplementary benefit.
We have no recent information. The only information available about payments made under the old scheme to people with incomes above supplementary benefit levels is an estimate based on a small sample survey in 1976. This indicated that about 10,000 such payments may have been made in a year. Under the Supplementary Benefits (Single Payments) Regulations, applying since November 1980, single payments can only be paid to claimants. A claimant is defined in the regulations as being a person who is entitled to supplementary benefit or would be entitled if he were to make valid claim. There is no power to make a single payments to anyone else.My right hon. Friend is carefully considering the recommendation of the social security advisory committee that there should be a limited extension of eligibility for single payments to defined categories of people who are not on supplementary benefit. The committee has also announced that it will be looking further during the current year at any special problems encountered by people with incomes just above the supplementary benefit level and we shall of course consider any further suggestions it makes.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the extra cost of allowing members of a married or unmarried couple to claim supplementary benefit on an individual basis, with no aggregation of resources.
I regret that this information is not available as it is not possible to predict how many new claims would result. It would be likely, however, to lead to a very large increase in the numbers of recipients, and in expenditure on benefit, as it would allow people to claim irrespective of the income of their spouse.