§ Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate, approximately, the cost of reducing the social security benefits of pensioners with means of more than £2,000 by one quarter between £2,000 and £3,000, by one-half between £3,000 and £4,000 and by three-quarters between £4,000 and £5,000; and if he will consider this proposal.
§ Mr. Newton
I refer the hon. Member to my hon. Friend's reply to his question on 9 March. [Vol. 19, c.392–93.] That reply was based on data relating to capital holdings at November 1979, before the cut-off rule was introduced. No new data have become available since then, and the estimated benefit costs given in that reply remain the best that can be produced. We now estimate that a scheme such as the hon. Member proposes would require about 120 additional staff and that to extend it to include all supplementary beneficiaries would require about 200 additional staff.
As the hon. Member will know, the Government propose to raise the capital disregard to £2,500 from November. To do this will fully restore the value which it held when it was introduced in 1980, will cost about £10 millions in benefit and will require about 100 additional staff.
The report of the Supplementary Benefit Policy Inspectorate into the effects of the new cut-off rule was published in April. We continue to welcome observations on it and to keep the operation of the capital rule under review.