§ Mr. Andrew Bowden
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the estimated number of retirement pensioners who will lose benefit as a result of (a) the difference between the 7 per cent. uprating of the basic retirement pension and the 5.8 per cent. rise in the housing benefit needs allowance, (b) the change to the housing benefit taper, and (c) the combination of both of these; and what is the estimated average loss of benefit in each case.
§ Mr. Newton
A precise estimate of the numbers whose benefit will be affected by the difference between the increase in the retirement pension and the housing benefit needs allowance could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The different increases arise from the different uprating factors which have been used for several years to calculate changes in benefits and allowances. This year single pensioners will normally gain as a result of this difference, while the reduction in housing benefit for a pensioner couple will not normally exceed 18 pence a week for a tenant, and five pence a week for an owner occupier.
An estimated 1.5 million pensioners will be affected by the change to the rates taper above the needs allowance, and on average their housing benefit will be 47 pence a week less than it would otherwise have been. The differences in increases to the retirement pension and the needs allowance will mean that the effect of the change in the rates taper will normally be a little less for a single pensioner and slightly greater for a pensioner couple.