HL Deb 30 October 1985 vol 467 cc1600-1WA
Baroness Jeger

asked Her Majesty's Govermment:

What assessment they have made of the effects o the restrictions on DHSS payments to single unemployed young people living in hotels o boarding houses, to elderly and disabled people in residential accommodation, and to refugees; and; what steps are being taken to ensure that no displacements or hardships have resulted for those in need.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness) Trumpington)

The analysis of statistical returns on boarders from DHSS local offices is not yet complete These returns were among the arrangements made by the department to monitor the effects of the changes in supplementary benefit board and lodging payment which were introduced in April. In addition, special surveys of younger boarders have been carried out in Scotland and the South-East, local DHSS staff from all regions were asked during September about their experience of the operation of the regulations, and; study by the Social Security Policy Inspectorate is in progress. Other monitoring information from local offices and from voluntary organisations, including the British Refugee Council, is also being studied.

Full information on the results of monitoring will be made available as soon as possible. Preliminary information is as follows. Between April and July 1985, 126,000 supplementary benefit claims were made by boarders in ordinary board and lodging. Hal these claimants were 25 or under. In addition, 6,000 people aged 25 or under were living in hostels and claiming as boarders. Overall, 28 per cent. of those aged 16–25 were exempt from the application of time limits on benefit at the boarder rate. Half the ordinary boarders aged 25 or under were paying amount; within the new financial limits.

Indications from DHSS local offices are that apart from resort areas, where people apparently returned home, most of those affected by time limits stayed in the same area and received benefit at the householder or non-householder rate. Local offices also report in general a continuing supply of accommodation within the new financial limits—in some cases at reduced prices.

A survey of 2,350 claimants under 26 in the South-East showed 20 per cent. were exempt from time limits. A further 35 per cent. remained in the same accommodation, mainly at the non-householder rate of benefit. Fifteen per cent. moved to other accommodation (less than 2 per cent. of these as boarders).Twenty-five per cent. ceased to claim supplementary benefit altogether (some of then because their entitlement to unemployment benefit exceeded their entitlement to supplementary benefit). A smaller Scottish survey showed a roughly comparable picture and there are similar indications from other areas. Monitoring results so far do not appear to substantiate suggestions of significant movement between board and lodging areas or of increased homelessness.

We are also continuing to monitor closely the operation of the regulations in respect of residential care and nursing homes, and have already announced our. intention to raise the residential care home limits by £ 10 a week and the nursing home limits by £31 40 a week from this November.

We have commissioned a study by a firm of management consultants, Ernst and Whinney, under the following terms of reference: To provide information on the operation of the market in private and voluntary provision of residential and nursing care with particular emphasis on the impact of social security payments to residents in homes.

We expect a report early next year.