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Social Security Benefits

Volume 485: debated on Thursday 18 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much was spent on free (a) school meals and (b) prescriptions for benefit claimants (i) in total and (ii) on average per benefit claimant in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (242188)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families do not collect information on how much is spent on free school meals.

Prescription data are not collected about patients, only about the number and cost of items dispensed.

The information available in respect of England is in the following table.

Total number of items dispensed to benefit recipients1 (Thousand)

Total net ingredient cost of items dispensed (£000)

2003

73,340.6

823,208.9

2004

77,347.4

900,858.5

2005

78,540.7

888,754.0

2006

80,525.8

913,349.2

2007

80,947.6

899,138.0

1 These items are dispensed to recipients of the following (and their partner if they have one) who are automatically entitled to free prescriptions:

income support;

income-based jobseeker’s allowance;

working tax credit with child tax credit or working tax credit that includes a disability or severe disability element and in either case whose annual gross taxable income is below a specified amount; and

pension credit guarantee credit (applies only to partners under 60 as recipients are exempt on age grounds) (from October 2003, previously minimum income guarantee included with income support).

Notes:

1. The number of items is derived from a one in 20 sample of all exempt items dispensed in the community in England by community pharmacists, appliance contractors and dispensing doctors.

2. The cost is in respect of net ingredient cost of prescription items dispensed in the community in England for each of the last five years.

Source:

Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA) Data.