§ Mr. Bowden
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the cost of extending heating allowances (a) to those pensioners in receipt of rent and rate rebates and (b) to those pensioners who will in future receive the unified housing benefit; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Newton
The introduction of housing benefit is not expected to make a significant difference to the number of pensioners not on supplementary benefit receiving rebates and allowances, though we hope that in the long term the introduction of the scheme will lead to some improvement in the take-up of supplementary benefit itself. At mid-1981 levels there were an estimated 2 million pensioners in receipt of rent rebates or allowances or rates rebates but not supplementary pensions. It is estimated that to extend the availability of heating additions to these pensioners on the same basis as currently available to supplementary pensioners would cost in the order of £220 million a year at November 1981 rates of benefit, on the assumption that this group have similar characteristics to supplementary pensioners.