asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the change in the number of persons in receipt of supplementary benefit since May 1979.
There were 4·1 million people receiving supplementary benefit in August 1982 compared with 2·9 million in May 1979. This represents an increase of 44 per cent.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people are not entitled to receive supplementary benefit because they have insurance policies.
No firm information is available, but the report of the Social Security Policy inspectorate on the effect of the supplementary benefit capital rule, a copy of which was placed in the Library on 6 April, suggests that there are very few people who are excluded from receiving a supplementary pension or allowance because they have an insurance policy whose surrender value, by itself or together with other capital, exceeds the capital limit.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will review the amount of capital disregarded for supplementary benefit purposes.
As the hon. Member will be aware, the amount of capital which a claimant can have whilst remaining eligible for weekly supplementary benefit was increased on 22 November to £2,500. This fully restores the value which the capital disregard had when the present arrangements were introduced in November 1980. The Government wil continue to keep the level under review.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the operation of the Supplementary Benefit Resources Regulations 1981 in relation to discretionary trusts.
The Supplementary Benefit (Resources) Regulations effectively continue the policy of the former Supplementary Benefits Commission in relation to discretionary trusts, and I see no reason for changing that policy.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what criteria are used in fixing the single householder short-term rate of allowance for supplementary benefit purposes.
The supplementary benefit scale rates are a development of the national assistance scale rates which were introduced in 1948 on the basis of the cost of essential living expenses. They have, of course, been regularly uprated since then and their real value is now approximately twice what it was in 1948.