HC Deb 27 January 1976 vol 904 cc175-6W
Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will introduce legislation in order to empower local housing authorities to arrange with local employment offices and with local offices of the Department of Health and Social Security to have council house rents deductible from unemployment benefit or sickness benefit in the same way as they can be deducted in the case of receiving supplementary benefits.

Mr. O'Malley

No. Supplementary benefit, which is calculated to take account of rent, is a quite different benefit from the short-term contributory benefits; and it would not be appropriate to seek to treat them in the same way. To do so would undermine the traditional relationship between the contributor and the scheme to which he contributes, and from which he derives benefit when sick of unemployed quite irrespective of his financial and other personal circumstances.

Even if a radical change of the kind envisaged by the hon. Member were not unacceptable in principle it would be unacceptable in terms of the administrative implications for the Department's local offices—implications which could probably not be limited to council house rents, or to rents generally.