§ 1. Mr. Favell
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of the domestic ratepayers in (a) Liverpool, (b) Manchester, (c) Stockport and (d) England and Wales as a whole receive housing benefit.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. John Major)
We estimate that in 1984–85 the proportion of ratepayers receiving a rate rebate in the four areas was approximately 50 per cent., 57 per cent., 31 per cent. and 35 per cent. respectively.
§ Mr. Favell
Does my hon. Friend agree that those figures demonstrate the desirability of a reform of the rating system on the lines outlined by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment?
§ Mr. Eastham
Do those figures project an idea to the Minister of the sheer poverty that is being experienced in some major cities? Is it not about time that there was a complete review of the benefits and subsidies that are a burden on the ratepayer? Ought they not to be a burden on the Government?
§ Mr. Tony Lloyd
The Minister said that 57 per cent. of ratepayers in Manchester receive housing benefit. Is that not, even for this Government, a shocking indictment showing the poverty level of wages in Manchester and the number of people who are dependent on state benefits and who have to claim housing benefit? Should not the Government be doing something about poverty in the urban areas?
§ Mrs. Beckett
Does the Minister's answer not show, first, how rents and poverty have increased under this Government; secondly, that the only way for someone to 794 get housing benefit reasonably high up the income scale is if their rent is well above average; and, thirdly, how much damage will be caused by the proposal to make all such people pay 20 per cent. of their rates?