HC Deb 07 July 1989 vol 156 cc305-6W
Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security on what basis he estimates that 9,000,000 people will be eligible to receive poll tax rebates; what action he intends for a take-up campaign to encourage those who believe they are eligible for rebates to apply; and how the campaign will be funded.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

The estimates of the numbers of people expected to receive community charge rebate that were published last summer were based on the benefit rates then current and the then most recent forecasts of community charge levels, and took account of the best demographic and financial information available at the time. Revised estimates will be published in due course when more up-to-date information is available. The Government have already made available publicity on rebates in the form of free leaflets and booklets, and are taking every opportunity to publicise the need to claim. The need for additional publicity is being kept under close review. The normal arrangements for the funding of Government information apply. In addition, it is expected that publicity campaigns will be mounted by local authorities and by certain other bodies.

Mr. Madden

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he is taking to inform people that the onus is on the individuals who believe they are eligible for poll tax rebates to apply for rebates; and in what languages this advice will be issued.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Local authorities in England and Wales will be able to treat people who are already receiving housing benefit as having claimed community charge benefit. The Department will write to everyone on income support who has not claimed housing benefit with a community charge benefit claim form. The Government are issuing publicity material, in English, drawing attention to the need to claim community charge benefit. In Wales this publicity material is being issued also in Welsh. The leaflet "Which Benefit?", which refers to community charge rebates in Scotland and to community charge benefit, is now being translated into seven Asian languages,and these will be available soon. The pamphlets and leaflets issued by the Department of the Environment, which include advice on claiming community charge benefit, are also being translated into other languages. Local authorities are also expected to publicise the need to claim community charge benefit, and are well placed to assess the need in their area for publicity material in languages other than English.

Mr. Hannam

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he has any plans to change the rule that attendance allowance is to be disregarded by local authorities when assessing a person's ability to pay home help charges, as stated in DHSS circular 53/71.

Mr. Freeman

I have been asked to reply.

The guidance in circular 53/71 on charging for home help services was issued in relation to the legislation then current governing the powers to local health authorities to make such charges. These powers are now contained in section 17 of the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudication Act 1983 which permits local social services authorities to make such charges (if any) as they consider reasonable, subject to the right of the client to satisfy the authority that he should not pay more than it is reasonably practicable for him to pay. Guidance on the use of these powers was given in circular LAC(84)7 a copy of which is in the Library.