§ Ms Harman
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assumptions about the real value of housing benefit and eligibility for housing benefit underlie the present public expenditure plans; and what plans he has to amend the assumptions as a result of the public expenditure review conducted within the Department of Social Security.
§ Mr. Hague
The assumptions which have been used to forecast housing benefit expenditure are set out in paragraphs 70 to 80 of the 1994 Social Security departmental report "The Government's expenditure plans 1994–95 to 1996–97". We have assumed that housing benefit will be uprated in April 1995 by 3.25 per cent. and in April 1996 by 3 per cent. the assumed values of the adjusted version of the retail prices index excluding housing costs; see paragraphs 61 and 74 of the report. The assumptions for real rent increases are given in paragraph 78 of the report—private rents increasing by 6.5 per cent. and local authority rent by 5 per cent., both in real terms. The forecasts have used the current rules for eligibility and include all changes to the eligibility rules announced last year. Future expenditure plans will be examined in the light of any changes arising out of the present review of housing benefit.