§ 49. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent representations he has received about housing benefit.
§ Dr. Boyson
We have recently received comments from the social security advisory committee, the local authority associations and others in response to our158W proposals to reduce housing benefit expenditure and to make a number of technical amendments to the scheme. The bulk of the comments expressed concern about the effects for claimants of the proposed reductions and about the implementation timetable. We have also received comments from the local authority associations on the subsidy provisions for 1984–85 and various representations about detailed aspects of the housing benefit scheme.
§ 51. Mr. Foulkes
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether his proposed revievs, of the housing benefit scheme will ask for evidence from agencies working in the field; and when he expects it to report.
§ Dr. Boyson
We shall want to discuss the review team's method of operation with the chairman, when he is appointed but we would expect it to take evidence from local authorities and others. We hope that it can report later this year.
§ 65. Mr. Andrew Bowden
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will refer his changed housing benefit regulations, due to come into force in November, to the review team he has created to examine the operation of the housing benefit scheme.
§ Dr. Boyson
Draft regulations were referred to the Social Security Advisory Committee as required by section 10 of the Social Security Act 1980 and reported on by them; and the statutory provisions for consulting representatives of local authorities have been carried out. The review team's task will be to consider the structure and adminstration of the housing benefit scheme as a whole.
§ Mr. Cormack
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether the review of housing benefit will be subject to a nil cost remit;
(2) whether the report of the inquiry into housing benefit will be published;
(3) whether the terms of reference of the review of the housing benefit scheme will allow consideration of (a) whether local authorities should continue to administer housing benefit, (b) the general issue of housing subsidy and (c) the achievement of a higher standard and more uniform system of decision-making by the introduction of an independent appeal system with a body such as the Social Security Commissioners setting case law;
(4) whether the terms of reference of the review of housing benefit will include a full inquiry into the way in which housing benefit was implemented and why the problems of implementation were underestimated;
(5) whether membership of the housing benefit review team will include people with a knowledge of claimants' interests.