§ Miss Widdecombe
Information is not available to calculate the costs of restoring entitlement to income support to 16 and 17-year-olds.
I regret that the answer which was given by my hon. Friend the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) on 26 July at column 494 was consequently incorrect. The costs then quoted related not to the costs of changing the basis of entitlement but only to the costs of increasing the rate of income support for 16 and 17-year-olds who would satisfy the current entitlement conditions.
The best estimates that can now be made of the costs of increasing entitlement remain the same as those given earlier, that is, an annual £10 million in relation to the rate of income support of those aged 18 to 24 and an annual £150 million in relation to the rate for those aged 25 or over. More precise estimates are not available because of the unquantifiable interaction between youth training and income support.
I have written to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon).