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Social Security

Mr. Chris Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is his estimate of the effect on revenues in (a) 1996-97 and (b) 1997-98 of the proposal to limit housing benefit for single people under 25 years to the average cost of local shared accommodation; [8506]

29 Jan 1996 : Column: 584

Mr. Burt: Reductions in expenditure from measures announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, in the social security statement on 29 November, Official Report, column 1212-15 are set out in the table.

Overall figures differ from those underlying the statement following the announcement on benefits for asylum seekers on 11 January and other revisions to estimates in some areas. A number of measures are subject to the outcome of consultation and the passage of legislation. The number of cases affected by the changes to non-dependant deduction rates is, in 1996-97, 55,000 on income support, 390,000 on housing benefit and 475,000 on council tax benefit, and, in 1997-98, 55,000 on income support, 390,000 on housing benefit and 485,000 on council tax benefit.

£ million, rounded to the nearest £5 million

Asylum seekers and persons from abroad-145-295-290
Additional anti-fraud measures-120-235-300
Housing Benefit--changes for under 25s-15-65-70
Housing Benefit--effect of above RPI increase in non-dependent deductions-30-35-35
Housing Benefit--change in payment arrangements-105-120-75
One Parent Benefit--no cash increase in April 1996-5-5-5
Lone Parent Premium--no cash increase in April 1996-10-10-10
Child Support--increase in minimum maintenance-10-10-15
Disability Living Allowance-- improving quality and level of information to decision-makers-20-95-165
Disability Living Allowance-- mobility component for hospital in-patients-30-40-45
Industrial Injuries Benefit-- changes to reduced earnings allowance-25-35-35
Family Credit--change in rules where youngest child has left school-5-10-10

1. Numbers affected are rounded to the nearest 5,000.

2. Figures cannot be aggregated due to overlapping benefit entitlement.

3. Some of the numbers affected (about 5,000 for each benefit in each year) will be gainers from the changes to income thresholds.

29 Jan 1996 : Column: 585

Pensioners' Incomes

Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of pensioners are identified as receiving income from savings; and what is the mean and median amount received for the latest year for which figures are available. [10200]

Mr. Heald: The latest available information is for 1993, when it is estimated that 73 per cent. of pensioner units were receiving income from savings. The mean amount received in 1993 is estimated to be £28.40 per week and the median is estimated at £4.90. Notes: 1. Source: Analysis of the 1993 family expenditure survey. 2. Amounts quoted are at July 1993 prices. 3. A pensioner unit is defined as a single person over state pension age or a couple where the husband, or head, is over state pension age.

Pensioners' Benefits

Sir Andrew Bowden: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what action he has taken and plans to take to improve income support and housing benefit take-up by pensioners. [10208]

Mr. Roger Evans: The Government's role is to ensure that help is there for those who need it and that people are in a position to make informed choices on whether to claim benefit. To this end, the Department is involved in a wide range of national and local initiatives to ensure that accurate and accessible information is available. These are often undertaken in conjunction with local interest and advice groups.

Further, local authorities have a statutory duty to publicise housing benefit.

Industrial Injuries

Mrs. Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what steps he has taken to implement the recommendations of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council on hand arm vibration syndrome; and if he will make a statement. [10180]

Mr. Roger Evans: We are currently considering the complex practical and administrative issues raised by the recommendations made by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council in its report "Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome" (Cm 2844) and expect to announce a response shortly.

29 Jan 1996 : Column: 586

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Ms Lynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what guidance is being given to adjudication officers in the period when the guidance on myalgic encephalomyelitis is being re-drafted; [10767]

Mr. Burt: Advice to adjudication officers on myalgic encephalomyelitis is contained in the disability handbook. This is currently being redrafted following discussions with the ME Association. In the meantime, adjudication officers are using existing guidance, but have been advised that they must consider all the evidence in the case to support their decision. Monitoring is undertaken on a random basis. Cases selected which involve myalgic encephalomyelitis are checked to ensure adjudication officers have taken this advice into account.

Ms Lynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what is the number of claims made for (a) incapacity benefit and (b) the disability living allowance by claimants who suffer from myalgic encephalomyelitis since the inception of the scheme; [10832]

Mr. Burt: The information is not available.

Cold Weather Payments

Ms Hodge: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the criteria for determining the temperature at which cold weather payments are triggered (a) generally, (b) in the Barking constituency and (c) in the Dagenham constituency; and what plans he has to review these criteria. [11476]

Mr. Roger Evans: The criteria for determining cold weather payment trigger temperatures are the same throughout the country: when the average temperature is, or is forecast to be, 0°C (freezing point) or below over any seven consecutive day period. We consider this to be a reasonable indication of a sustained period of very cold weather not normally expected to occur in the majority of British winters. The weather stations used for Barking are Heathrow and Stanstead. Dagenham is served solely by Stanstead.

There are no plans for major changes to the scheme.

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many times the Tiree monitoring station has triggered the system of cold weather payments since it was first designated for such purposes. [10679]

Mr. Evans: Since 1 November 1991, when Tiree was first used in the cold weather payment scheme, no triggers have occurred.

29 Jan 1996 : Column: 587

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