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Supplementary Benefit

Volume 24: debated on Monday 17 May 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, if, further to his answer of 29 April, OfficialReport, c. 331, he will place in the Library a copy of the new instructions to staff in supplementary benefit offices on the handling of claims to supplementary benefit of people from abroad.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the total number of persons in receipt of supplementary benefit from his Department's Blackburn office, at the latest available date, together with a breakdown of these figures by claimant group, registered unemployed, sick and disabled, unemployed in receipt of the long-term scale rate, one-parent families, pensioners, and so on.

Information relating to February 1982—the latest available date is given in the attached table:

Sick and disabled900
Single-parent families*1,200
Registered unemployed5,300
Unemployed on long-term scale rate100
Others300
Total supplementary allowances7,700†
Supplementary pensioners4,900
Total supplementary beneficiaries12,600
* Excludes some one-parent families in other groups, eg. widows with National Insurance Benefit and those who are unemployed.
† Subheads do not add to total because of rounding.
Source: 100 per cent. count of cases in action, February 1982.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why two-thirds of the group listed as "others" in the 1977 survey of supplementary benefit take-up have been excluded in the latest analysis; and if he will publish the details of the further work and the other group to which he referred in the notes to his reply of 5 April, Official Report, c. 249–50.

This group consisted of people whose entitlement to benefit could not be ruled out at the time the 1977 survey took place, as it was thought that they might be caring for sick or elderly relatives. The 1979 family expenditure survey introduced a new question to establish whether this was the case. None of the respondents in the group was looking after a relative, and they were therefore excluded from the 1979 estimates because it did not appear that they could have made a successful claim for supplementary benefit. Our statisticians consider that a similar response would have resulted had the quest on been asked in 1977, which is why this group was also excluded from the revised estimates for that year.The further work referred to by the hon. Member consisted of an examination of the 1977 statistical analyses in the light of the answers to the extra question asked in 1979.If by "the other group" the hon. Member means the small residual group mentioned in the first footnote to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) on 5 April, they were composed mainly of people known to have a job to return to, whose reason for absence from work could not be identified. Although they were included in totals, no separate figure was given because of the small sample sizes and because there was doubt about their potential entitlement.

If, however, the hon. Gentleman means those who were reclassified, they have been identified as temporarily away from work through sickness or accident. In all cases they have a job to return to and differ from those orginally counted in the sick and disabled group by being to a much greater extent characterised by short absences from work. They have accordingly been reclassified as sick and disabled.