asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether any consideration is being given to amending supplementary benefit regulations for people aged over 50 years to allow higher part-time earnings before supplementary benefit is reduced; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will estimate the cost of raising the earnings limit to £20 per week for people aged over 50 years, before supplementary benefit is reduced; how many people he estimates would benefit; and if he will make a statement.
We have no present plans to increase the amount that people, including those aged over 50, can earn before supplementary benefit is reduced. To increase the limit to £20 for all those in this age group including those who are already receiving supplementary benefit would give increased entitlement to some 35,000 people at a cost of £20 million a year. We do not have a reliable estimate of the number who might be brought into entitlement or what the additional cost might be.For the future we have announced proposals for changes in the levels of disregards of earnings in the income support scheme that replaces supplementary benefit from April 1988. The standard disregard would be increased from £4 to £5 a week although the separate disregard of work expenses would end. There would be a higher disregard of £15 a week for couples who have been unemployed two years, lone parents and those qualifying for the disability premium.