§ Mr. Dewar
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many claimants are in each of the following categories and by how much they will lose under the current proposals outlined in the consultative document "Assistance With Housing Costs" (a) those taken off supplementary benefit to be put on to housing benefit and thereby losing their entitlement to single payments, (b) those taken off supplementary benefit and put on to housing benefit thereby losing their entitlement after one year to the long-term rate of supplementary benefit and (c) those taken off supplementary benefit and put on to housing benefit thereby losing their automatic entitlement to free prescriptions, dental, aural and optical treatment.
§ Mrs. Chalker
The available information is as follows:
- i. 113,000 claimants will cease to receive supplementary benefit and so will no longer be entitled to single payments. These claimants however gain in weekly income by an average of just over £1.
- ii. About 6,000 of these will be in groups which could be affected by the qualifying period for the long term scale rate, that is, claimants other than pensioners or the unemployed. But some will already be on the long term scale rate and some would cease to receive benefit before the end of the qualifying period anyway, so the exact numbers affected, for which an estimate is not available, will be considerably less.
- iii. The 113,000 claimants who cease to receive supplementary benefit will lose automatic entitlement to free dental, aural and optical treatment but only 11,000 will lose automatic entitlement to free prescriptions, since most of those ceasing to receive supplementary benefit are pensioners who will continue to receive free prescriptions on age grounds. Those losing automatic entitlement to any of these charges are likely to continue to be entitled on low income grounds.
Since what is being foregone is a possible future entitlement, it is not possible to estimate whether, and, if so, how much, a particular claimant could lose. These claimants will be in exactly the same position as other people living just above the supplementary benefit level, and as indicated many will gain in weekly income from the change.