§ Mr. Meadowcroft
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the savings made since the introduction of unified housing benefit as a result of the ineligibility of individuals on unified housing benefit for single payments, urgent needs, heating allowance, health benefits and heating allowance to which they would have been entitled had they remained on supplementary benefit.
§ Dr. Boyson
Estimates of changes in expenditure in the period since the introduction of housing benefit are not available. Apart from some reductions in expenditure on single payments, there are no significant savings in the other areas mentioned in the question. The estimated 110,000 claimants who no longer receive supplementary benefit as a result of the introduction of housing benefit have, under the new rules, weekly incomes at least as high as their supplementary benefit needs — including any entitlement to additional requirements such as heating additions. Many of these claimants will still be entitled to other benefits such as free prescriptions on low income grounds. Eligibility for urgent need payments, which is not dependent on entitlement to normal supplementary benefit, has also not been affected by the introduction of housing benefit.
At the same time as the introduction of housing benefit a number of separate changes were made to the rules governing payments to supplementary benefit recipients who pay a fixed charge for their heating, which have not, overall, resulted in savings in expenditure.