§ Mr. Blunkett
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are his best estimates of the number of applications for deductions from income support for poll tax arrears in 1990–91, the number which will be enforced; the costs of servicing each deduction, and the staffing implications of the increased workload.560W
§ Mrs. Gillian Shephard
[holding answer 5 February 1990]: The Department expects that in any year in England, Wales and Scotland some 850,000 applications for deductions from income support may be made in respect of the community charge, though the number will depend on the extent to which authorities choose to recover unpaid charges using this particular method. We expect about 700,000 of the applications to be enforced. The average annual cost to the Department of servicing each application is estimated to be £26. The total staffing requirement in Great Britain is now estimated to be approximately 470 posts. People in receipt of income support are entitled to maximum community charge benefit which reduces their community charge bill by 80 per cent.
Income support levels were adjusted in April last year to include help towards the average minimum contribution to the community charge that recipients would be expected to pay.
The amounts included were £1.15 a week for single people aged 18 to 24, £1.30 a week for single people aged 25 or over and £2.30 a week for couples. These amounts form part of the overall benefit levels which will be uprated from April this year.