HC Deb 12 December 1972 vol 848 cc219-21
13. Mr. Skinner

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what estimate he has made of the effect on the work load of social security supplementary benefit staff resulting from the Housing Finance Act.

Mr. Dean

A total of 160 additional local office staff have been provided for this work.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that it is a crazy set-up when 160 people have to be added to the social security staff to deal with supplementary benefits and several thousand must be added to local authority staff to handle the rent rebate schemes—in both cases for the same people? Is he further aware that because of this ludicrous situation an overtime ban took place in October? Does he realise that in April, when another 50p is added, we will be even further up the creek, because more people will come into the catchment area? Does he appreciate that by next October it will be even worse? Why does he not tell the Secretary of State for the Environment to scrap the Act?

Mr. Dean

This Act means lower rents for many needy families. I am sorry that hon. Gentlemen are still "narking" about it.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Will my hon. Friend accept that the majority of people are very glad that at last public money is being spent on those who need it most—the pensioners, the lower-paid and the disabled?

Mr. Dean

I agree with every word that my hon. Friend has said.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that in some of the areas where people are refusing to implement the Act many families are not getting the benefits of which he has spoken? Can he say why the Secretary of State for the Environment has called in commissioners in some places and yet refused to do so in others?

Mr. Dean

The two Departments are working together very closely on the ground. I accept the hon. Gentleman's point that this is very necessary.