HC Deb 18 February 1988 vol 127 c695W
Mr. Ashdown

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost of restoring the benefits which students have lost since 1979, showing separately the costs in respect of(a) transport benefits, (b) housing benefits and (c) supplementary benefit.

Mr. Portillo

On the cost of restoring assistance with student transport costs to its 1979 level, I refer the hon. Member to the reply of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Education and Science to the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) on 1 February 1988 at column441. The cost of reversing changes to the social security benefit rules for students cannot be calculated precisely because of the many variables. The total estimated net reduction in benefit expenditure in a full year arising from the changes made in 1986 and 1987 was, at 1985–86 benefit rates, £31/2 million in unemployment benefit, £31/2 million in supplementary benefit and £17 million in housing benefit. This takes no account of the £8 million cost of the related special increase in the accommodation element of the student grant. Expenditure on social security benefits paid to students is higher in real terms than in 1979, as relatively few students received help with rent and rates before the introduction of housing benefit in 1982–83.