HC Deb 20 May 1986 vol 98 cc169-70W
Mr. Frank Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will detail changes in the housing benefit scheme since its inception, together with planned future changes, giving the number of claimants subject to changes to all or part of their entitlement, the average value of each the changes and the net savings to public expenditure; and if he will express each of these changes to public expenditure as a percentage of the total cost of the scheme.

Mr. Major

[pursuant to his reply, 19 March 1986, c. 229]: The principal changes made to the housing benefit scheme since its inception in April 1983 are as follows:

April 1984 Rent rebate taper above needs allowance increased 5 per cent. to 26 per cent. Rate rebate taper above needs allowance increased 2 per cent. to 9 per cent. 18–20 year old non-dependant deductions incorporated into the adult rate and increased to £6.15 for rents and £2.05 rates, and deductions for 18–20 year olds on supplementary benefit on Youth Training Scheme abolished.

November 1984 Rent rebate taper above needs allowance increased 3 per cent. to 29 per cent. Minimum payments above needs allowance increased to 50 pence. Non-dependant deductions for 16–17 year olds not on supplementary benefit, Youth Training Scheme or non contributory invalidity pension introduced at the lower rate. 50 pence real improvement to dependant child's needs allowance.

April 1985 High rent scheme thresholds raised to 130 per cent. of average rents.

November 1985 Rate rebate taper above the needs allowance increased 4 per cent. to 13 per cent. 95 pence real improvement to dependant child's needs allowance.

The numbers affected by these changes and the net savings are given in the table. Estimates of the average effect of each change are not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Planned adjustments to students' entitlement, non-dependent deductions for 21 to 24-year-olds, and entitlement of part III residents are subject to final consideration following consultation with the Social Security Advisory Committee and the Local Authority Associations. The details of planned changes for April 1988, together with illustrations of the possible effects, are outlined in the White Paper 'Reform of Social Security" (Cmnd. 9691).

Estimated Expenditure Effects and Numbers of Households Affected by
Changes to the Housing Benefit Scheme*
Great Britain
Date of Change Net saving† at time of change £ million Numbers affected at time of change (millions) Saving as a proportion of total benefit expenditure in year of change (per cent)
April and November 1984 ‡171 ob/2.3 4.1
April 1985 6 0.09 0.1
November 1985 45 2.0 1.0
* 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 changes.
† Full-year figures, including rale rebate savings which are not classified as public expenditure.
‡ Estimated full-year cost in November 1984 of restoring the November 1983 tapers, minima and equivalent levels for non-dependent deductions and dependent child's needs allowance.
| |Excludes those whose benefit increased.