HC Deb 16 December 1994 vol 251 cc835-6W
Mr. Dewar

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if the proposals for reducing the level of support for mortgage interest payments under income support require primary legislation.

Mr. Roger Evans

Secondary legislation only is required to amend the rules providing assistance with mortgage interest in income support.

Mr. Dewar

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what savings he expects in a full year as a result of the proposed withdrawal of mortgage interest payments by his Department(a) in the first two months on income support and (b) at 50 per cent. for a further four months.

Mr. Roger Evans

These two proposals to withdraw mortgage interest payments in the first two months on income support and pay at 50 per cent. for a further four

Major change Date of change Gainers Losers Cost £ million Saving £ million
Responsibility for the housing costs of boarders/hostel dwellers transferred from Income Support to Housing Benefit1 April–October 1989 110,000 489
Capital limit doubled to £16,000 April 1990 50,000 62
Disengagement of students from Housing Benefit2 September 1990 28
Housing Benefit subsidy reduced by 2 per cent.3 April 1991 46
Restrict access to Housing Benefit by persons from abroad and other persons4 April and August 1994 22,000 40
Figures on gainers and losers are the estimated figures for the financial year in which each change occurred.
Estimated costs/savings are at 1994–95 prices, except for the "disengagement of students" which is at 1990–91 (because the Department no longer collects data on students' incomes and rent levels)
1 Housing Benefit gainers/costs were offset by losers/savings in Income Support.
2 No figures on gainers/losers are available. The changes to Housing Benefit were made as part of an overall package of measures for full-time students and included the introduction of student loans and Access Funds. The overall increase in expenditure on students was over £100 million at the point of change.
3 No information is available on the number of persons affected by the change to local authority subsidy arrangements.
4 Three tests were introduced in 1994—the immigration status test in April 1994, and the habitual residence and Rights of Residence Directives tests in August 1994.

Mr. Byers

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will amend Housing Benefit Regulation 101(1)(b) to ensure that landlords will no longer bear the financial responsibility for fraudulent claims made by their tenants; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Roger Evans

There are no plans to do so. Recovery of overpaid housing benefit can be sought from a landlord where payment of such benefit has been made direct. In such circumstances, the local authority will still exercise judgement when deciding whether to pursue recovery in this way. Guidance issued to local authorities by this Department provides for authorities to make clear months will be the subject to wide consultation. The financial effect will depend on the outcome of this consultation and the final detail of the scheme.