HC Deb 20 December 1985 vol 89 cc409-11W
Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many pensioners with capital in excess of £6,000 receive housing benefit.

Mr. Newton

We do not collect specific information about amounts of capital held by households which receive housing benefit. The 1983 family expenditure survey included questions on income from capital and it is possible to use this information to make broad estimates, although these may not be very reliable. On this basis, it is estimated that in 1983–84 somewhat over 250,000 pensioners in receipt of standard housing benefit had capital over £6,000.

Mr. Murphy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what estimate he had made of the level of expenditure by local authorities on payment of extra housing benefit to individual claimants referred to in paragraph 3.63 of the White Paper, "Reform of Social Security" (Cmnd. 9691) how many (i) pensioner and (ii) non-pensioner claimants he expects to receive such benefit; what overall limits on local discretionary powers he proposes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton

We estimate current expenditure on local discretion to be about £35 million. The removal of the power to operate local schemes except for war pensioners should reduce this expenditure, but we do not collect information centrally on the average value of discretionary payments to individuals. The amount which local authorities can spend on local discretion is currently limited by regulations to 10 per cent. of the cost of the standard housing benefit which the authority would have granted under the statutory scheme. We will propose similar limitations in the reformed scheme.

Mrs. Beckett

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report his Department's estimates of the number of (a) pensioner households, (b) families with children and (c) other households which have (i) suffered a reduction in their housing benefit entitlement and (ii) lost all entitlement to housing benefit, as a result of changes to the tapers, minimum payment rules and high rent area authorisation formula, respectively, at April 1983, April 1984, November 1984, April 1985 and November 1985; and if he will also give his estimate of the cumulative savings made as a result of these changes.

Mr. Major

[pursuant to his reply, 5 December 1985, c. 340]Information derived from estimates made at the time is shown in the tables. It is not possible to aggregate the effects of the changes because they will overlap and in part be offset by the effects of upratings and other improvements to the scheme.

Table A: Estimated Numbers of Households Affected by Changes to the Housing Benefit Scheme
Great Britain Thousands
April 1983 taper changes April and November 1984 changes to tapers, minima and childs needs allowance* April 1985 high rent changes November 1985 taper changet†
(i)Households affected by the changes
(a) pensioners 1,150 1,200 90 1,470
(b) families with childrenor (c) working households 610 380 270
(d) others 500 480 330
(ii) Households losing all entitlement (included in the above):
(a) pensioners 120 210 not available 270
(b) families with children or (c) working households 280 210 100
(d) others 80 80

* The figures for those losing all entitlement include those affected by the non-dependent deduction changes.

† The figures for those losing all entitlement refer to rate rebates only; some households may still be receiving assistance with rents.

Table B: Estimated Cash Savings Resulting from the Changes
£ million
1983–84 50 approx
1984–85 120 *
1985–86 April 6
November 20 †

* This was the estimated full-year cost in November 1984 of restoring the November 1983 tapers and minima.

† Part-year saving only; the estimated full year saving is £57 million.