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Average amount of housing benefit Real terms 1994-95 prices (£) Private tenants Great Britain |Local |Housing |Other ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ May 1988 |21.28 |25.21 |N/A |N/A May 1989 |21.78 |26.43 |N/A |N/A May 1990 |23.00 |29.57 |N/A |N/A May 1991 |24.88 |35.60 |N/A |N/A May 1992 |27.80 |40.42 |33.89 |42.76 May 1993 |29.53 |44.48 |36.47 |47.74 Source: HBMIS Notes: <1> All figures in the tables have come from the Housing Benefit Management Information System (HBMIS) 1 per cent. samples. <2> Information for earlier years is not available.
Mr. Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many appeals were received by each housing benefit review board in England and Wales in each year since 1986; of these, how many were heard and determined at a hearing; and what was the number of successful appeals.
Responsibility for operating review boards lies with individual local authorities. It is not possible to make a representative estimate of these costs to an individual authority since detailed information is not collected about particular aspects of their operating costs. In addition, review board costs could vary widely depending upon the arrangements made by individual authorities.
Column 368(2) what is his Department's estimate of the annual gross and net costs of introducing on a national basis the in-work benefit for single people and childless couples; how many single people and childless couples would be eligible; and what proportion these form of the totals in these groups.
Mr. Roger Evans: It is estimated that the average cost of an appeal to a social security appeal tribunal for the Independent Tribunal Service in 1993 94 was £265. The Benefits Agency's costs in preparing and submitting these appeals are not included.
Mr. Dewar: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the average cost to new borrowers of taking out insurance against unemployment and sickness to cover their mortgage interest payments as a result of the decision to limit income support assistance with new mortgages from October 1995.
Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement about the plans of his Department to make information available on the Internet and the documents which he intends to be made available on the Internet over the next year which will be accessible via the world wide web server "open.gov.uk" or any specific departmental server.
Mr. Lilley: Since the publication of the White Paper, "Security, Equality, Choice: The Future for Pensions", the Government have refined their proposals in respect of a statutory minimum solvency requirement and age-related rebates following further detailed analysis and consideration of comments received on the original proposal.
In relation to the proposed statutory minimum solvency requirement, I now propose that there should be an adjustment to the valuation basis in respect of very large schemes, to allow an equity component in the calculation of their pensioner liabilities; that the time limits for restoring schemes' funding levels to at least 90 per cent.
Column 369and 100 per cent. of the statutory minimum solvency requirement should be extended to one year and five years respectively; and that the statutory minimum solvency requirement calculation should be smoothed over a period of months rather than being based on market values on a particular day. With these changes the statutory minimum solvency requirement should deliver an appropriate level of security for members' pension entitlements, without imposing unnecessary burdens on business.
The White Paper announced our intention to introduce age-related rebates for appropriate personal pensions and contracted-out money purchase occupational pension schemes in April 1997. This will ensure that money purchase pensions remain attractive across a broader age range. To help phase in this policy, I intend to introduce a 9 per cent. cap on the age related rebates when they are brought in. This should enable the vast majority of existing appropriate personal pension scheme holders to continue with their scheme until they reach state pension age. It will also mean that younger employees can continue to take out new appropriate personal pensions. Details of the illustrative rates of the age-related rebates will be published by the Government Actuary in his report on the forthcoming Pensions Bill.
Further details are set out in a letter of 8 December to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Butterfill) which is in the Library.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to propose that (a) the amount of child maintenance paid by an absent parent will be taken into consideration when other benefits are calculated and (b) those parents who can afford less than £2.30 a week in maintenance payments should be zero rated.
If an absent parent's maintenance liability were to be deducted from his income before his entitlement to income-related benefits was assessed, this would mean that his benefit entitlement was higher and was, in effect, contributing towards the maintenance payment. Also, since maintenance is assessed on the basis of an absent parent's income including any income- related benefits, the higher benefit entitlement should lead to a higher maintenance liability, producing a circular effect.
The Government believe that it is right that absent parents should normally make some contribution towards the support of their children. The minimum amount, currently £2.30 a week, is payable where assessed maintenance is less than £2.30 or where the absent parent is on income support. However, absent parents who should pay the minimum amount are exempted where, for example, they are sick or disabled or are themselves bringing up a child; most of those on income support, and all those on family credit, are exempted.
Column 370nurseries. The help with child care costs from October 1994 in family credit, disability working allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit, is payable in respect of day nursery provision where charges are made for this.
Along with child benefit and one-parent benefit, lone parents can qualify for a range of extra assistance within the income related benefits such as the lone parent premium, a higher earning disregard and a maintenance disregard.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what discussions he has held with the Secretary of State for Education about (a) short and (b) long-term provision for child care.
Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Gapes), on 1 December 1994, Official Report , columns 884-85, regarding the benefit rights available to British citizens under present habitual residence rules, if he will make a statement on the basis by which such citizens have a right to claim under existing rules relating to the social fund.
Ms Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer of 24 November 1994, Official Report, columns 424- 25, concerning the application of the habitual residence test in Lewisham, Deptford; how the test is being applied; what are the guidelines issued to adjudication officers; and what is the length of time clients are having to wait for habitual residence test interviews.
Column 371Letter from Michael Bichard to Ms Joan Ruddock, dated 7 December 1994:
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking for details of the application of the habitual residence test in Lewisham, Deptford. The habitual residence test is applied to all Income Support customers who satisfy the normal conditions of entitlement of Income Support and have indicated on their claim form that they have come to live in the UK in the last 5 years. Relevant information is gathered by officers acting as the Secretary of State, normally by interview, to establish the reasons and intentions for coming to the UK. This information is then considered by an adjudication officer who decides if the customer is habitually resident in the UK. The customer is informed in writing of the decision and of their right of appeal. Before the habitual residence test regulations became effective the Central Adjudication Services provided adjudication guidance (Adjudication Officers Guide (AOG) Memo Vol 3/69), offering an interpretation of the term "habitual residence" using existing European social security legislation where the concept of habitual residence is mainly to be found. The Benefits Agency (BA) also issued procedural instructions to offices on the handling of claims when the habitual residence test is to be applied (Income Support Guide (ISG) Circular 15/94). Copies of the ISG Circulars are available in the House of Commons library. I have enclosed a copy of the AOG Memo and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Initially, Lewisham caller office had a problem with the number of cases that required an interview and appointments were delayed for up to 4 weeks. This problem has now been addressed and personal callers with an urgent claim can usually be seen the same day. Non urgent and postal claims are generally seen within one week. I hope you find this reply helpful.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what changes, if any, are proposed to the existing £15 weekly disregard available to couples where the claimant's unemployment duration exceeds two years under the proposed arrangements for a back-to-work bonus available to jobseeker's allowance recipients; what is the proposed maximum accumulation period during which a claimant or claimant's partner in part-time work may have benefit deducted to be set aside; under what circumstances a claimant's partner who obtains full-time work will be eligible for receipt of the back to work bonus; and how the back to work bonus income will be treated for the purposes of pay-as-you-earn or national insurance contributions.
Mr. Roger Evans: Under our proposals for jobseeker's allowance the £15 earnings disregard for long-term unemployed couples will be abolished. A £10 disregard will apply for all couples in place of the usual £5 per person under current income support rules. Where a person is receiving income-related jobseeker's allowance, or income support, a partner's earnings will help to build up a bonus, which can be paid if the partner obtains work of 24 or more hours a week. No decision has yet been made on whether there should be a maximum accumulation period. The back to work bonus will not be subject to income tax and national insurance contributions.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the best estimates of the numbers of unemployed people who are currently receiving income support at the reduced rate on grounds of hardship who would not qualify under the proposed jobseeker's allowance arrangements; under the new arrangements, in
Column 372what circumstances entitlement to either housing benefit or assistance with payment of mortgage interest payments continue if an unemployed claimant is under sanction but cannot demonstrate that a household member would suffer hardship; and what arrangements are envisaged under the jobseeker's allowance for the treatment of unemployed claimants who are judged to be voluntarily unemployed on grounds of misconduct or voluntary leaving; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans: A total of 2,779 hardship payments were made in the year to March 1994 to unemployed people who were found not available for or actively seeking work. The arrangements for access to hardship payments under the proposed jobseeker's allowance will broadly follow those which apply for actively seeking work in income support. Payments are made at the discretion of an adjudication officer on a case-by-case basis. Estimates of those who would not receive payments under the jobseeker's allowance are not available. Sanctioned claimants not in receipt of hardship payment in a given week will be able to claim housing benefit on income grounds. During the period of the sanction they will not be entitled to jobseeker's allowance, including any elements in respect of help with mortgage interest payments.
People who leave work voluntarily without just cause, or through misconduct, will not receive jobseeker's allowance for up to 26 weeks unless they can demonstrate that a member of their household would suffer hardship. Hardship payments will be made under income-related jobseeker's allowance and will be equivalent to a reduction of 40 per cent. or 20 per cent. of the personal allowance. Such payments will not be available for the first two weeks of a benefit sanction except to people with children, with caring responsibilities, who are pregnant or have a pregnant partner, or who are sick or disabled or who have a partner who is sick or disabled.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the estimate, based on the most recent information for income support recipients, of the number people likely to become eligible for jobseeker's allowance as a result of extending the threshold of a partner's weekly working hours from 16 to 24; what is the estimated cost from payment of income support to those brought into eligibility; and what changes, if any, will be made to eligibility for either housing benefit or assistance with mortgage interest payments to jobseeker's allowance recipients with a partner employed for less than 24 hours per week.
Those entitled to either income support or income-related jobseeker's allowance as a result of the increase in the partner's hours threshold will continue to be entitled to maximum help with their rent, subject to any deductions for non-dependants or ineligible service charges. Had the hours threshold not been increased, housing benefit could still have been claimed on income grounds where the partner was working 16 hours or more per week. In these cases where net income, including partner's earnings, exceeds income support levels, the amount of help from housing benefit will reduce as
Column 373income rises, as now. Help with mortgage interest payments will also continue where the partner is working for less than 24 hours per week. If the partner's hours threshold had not been increased no help with mortgage
Column 374interest payments would have been available if the partner worked for 16 hours or more per week, as entitlement to income-related jobseeker's allowance would have been extinguished.
|Increase in the |Increase in the |number of |Cost of IS/JSA |£ million |£ million |£ million -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- JSA (income related) (IR) |25,000 |15,000 |35 |25 |10 Income Support (IS) |5,000 |5,000 |5 |- |5 |-------- |-------- |-------- |-------- |-------- Total |25,000 |20,000 |40 |25 |15 Notes: JSA-Jobseekers allowance FC-Family credit Figures may not sum due to rounding. Modelled on the PSM using the 1990-91-92 FES and the 1994-95 benefit system. All caseload figures rounded to the nearest 5,000 and savings/costs to the nearest £5 million. Estimates do not include any tax or behavioural impacts. Costs/savings are given in 1997-98 prices and assume 2.4 million unemployed. Couples are assumed to claim IS/JSA only if they are better off on IS/JSA than they would be on FC.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security under the proposed arrangements for the jobseeker's allowance, what will be the taper for reducing the allowance above the £50 weekly ceiling for those unemployed claimants whose payment will be abated on the ground of their receipt of occupational pension income; and what are the best estimates available of the total numbers of unemployed claimants who would be affected by this abatement and the number who would lose the entirety of the jobseeker's allowance payment, in both cases for those aged over 55 years and those aged 55 years and under giving separate figures.
Mr. Roger Evans: As is currently the case with unemployment benefit, there will be a 100 per cent. taper. The precise mechanism is still under consideration. However, current broad estimates of the numbers of people who will be affected by the occupational pension abatement rules in jobseeker's allowance as well as the numbers of unemployed claimants who will not receive any jobseeker's allowance because their pensions are too large is set out in the table.
|Aged less than 55|Aged more than 55 ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Estimated number of unemployed claimants who receive no JSA because of pension |5,000 |5,000 Estimated number of JSA recipients with pensions of more than £50 per week |5,000 |5,000 Estimated number of JSA recipients with pensions of less than £50 per week |5,000 |10,000 Notes: (1) All caseload estimates rounded to the nearest 5,000; as a result the figures do not sum. (2) All estimates assume that JSA has been introduced and the length of entitlement is set at six months. Estimates assume that any occupational pension above £50 per week is abated against benefit. Estimates assume that there is no age limit under which occupational pensions are abated. (3) Estimates assume 2.4 million unemployed claimants and 500,000 UB cases. (4) Estimates use the 1993 and 1994 Unemployment Benefits Statistics, the 1993 Annual Statistical Enquiry, and the policy simulation model using 1990-91-92 data. (5) Estimates do not include tax or behavioural implications. (6) Estimates assume that those claimants aged less than 55 who currently receive UB and who will not be eligible for any contributory JSA continue to claim benefit.
Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out details of the new rates of benefit proposed from April 1995, revised in the light of the decision not to proceed with the second phase of VAT on domestic fuel.
Mr. Lilley: The revised benefit rates are in the schedule which has been placed in the Library. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland proposes to introduce similar changes.
Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the latest estimate of the number of unemployed people, listing figures for men and women and separately for those aged under 25 years and those aged 25 years and over who would not qualify for unemployment benefit if the period of entitlement were reduced from 12 months to six months showing the number of claimants (a) likely to be affected over a full operational year and (b) likely to be affected at any one point in an operational year; how many would be eligible for income support; how many are expected to apply for credits of national insurance contributions; what the net saving to the Exchequer would be; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Roger Evans: Information on the numbers affected at any one point in time is in the table. Estimates of the number who are likely to be affected over an operational year are not available. We estimate that
Column 375approximately 45,000 people who would have no entitlement to unemployment benefit or income support would decide to sign on in order to be credited with national insurance contributions. Our current unemployment assumptions setting the length of entitlement to unemployment benefit at six months rather than 12 months is estimated to result in net savings of £170 million.
|All |Men |Women |Under 25|Over 25 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- A. Estimated number who lose entitlement to unemployment benefit |165,000 |115,000 |45,000 |30,000 |135,000 B. Of numbers in A the estimated number entitled to income support |95,000 |75,000 |20,000 |25,000 |70,000 C. Of numbers in A estimated number entitled number entitled to neither unemployment benefit nor income support |70,000 |45,000 |25,000 |5,000 |65,000 Notes: Figures may not sum due to rounding. All costs/savings estimates rounded to the nearest £10 million. All caseload estimates rounded to the nearest 5,000. All estimates in 1994-95 prices. Estimates assume 2.4 million unemployed claimants and 500,000 UB cases. Estimates do not include tax or behavioural implications, except for the estimate of those who will continue to sign to claim NI credits. In this case we have assumed that the same number will continue to sign if UB exhausts after six months as currently continue to sign when UB exhausts after 12 months.