§ Mr. Wilshire
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much administration grant was paid to Spelthorne borough council in 2003–04 to cover the1720W cost of operating the council tax benefit scheme; and what proportion of the council's costs this grant covered. 
§ Mr. Pond
Spelthorne borough council was paid £144,762 specifically for council tax benefit administration costs in 2003–04. However, this does not include the extra funding for administering this scheme that has arisen due to the increase caseloads following the introduction of the new tax credit and pension credit schemes. The grant is not ring-fenced, but is a targeted grant and represents just one part of Spelthorne's total housing and council tax benefits administration subsidy funding.
The total housing and council tax benefits administration grant paid to Spelthorne borough council for 2003–04 was £509,893; it is for the local authority to decide how much it apportions between the administration of the two benefits.
Spelthorne borough council report that the estimated cost of administering council tax benefit for 2003–04 was £307,000; however, final figures are in the process of being collected.
In addition to the administration grant, a further £56,566 has been paid through the Security Against Fraud and Error (SAFE) scheme. This covers the first three quarters of 2003–04. The final quarter is yet to be finalised; a further payment will be made accordingly.