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Benefit Entitlement (Water Costs)

Mrs. Helen Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what assessment he has made of the advantages and disadvantages of revising the

27 Feb 1996 : Column: 524

figure included for water costs in the calculations of benefit entitlement to reflect (a) variations of regional costs, (b) the rateable value of the property concerned and (c) the fact of a property being on a metered charge; [16805]

Mr. Roger Evans: Income support is a national benefit which provides a level of income for normal daily expenditure. It does not specify particular amounts for particular items of household expenditure many of which, like water, vary regionally and over time. The cost of restructuring the benefit in the way envisaged would be considerable.

Mrs. Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average deduction from income support, (a) with and (b) without an element for arrears, paid to water companies where people have opted to have their water costs deducted at source. [16803]

Mr. Evans: The information available is set out in the table.

Direct payment deductions from income support for water/sewerage charges

Average weekly deduction excluding arrears3.34
Average weekly deduction including arrears5.86


Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiry February 1995.


1. In certain circumstances, direct payment deductions for water/sewerage charges may be made without the consent of the Income Support recipient. Figures for people who have specifically opted tor direct payments are not available.

Pension Schemes

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make it his policy to ensure that the interests of pensioner members of pension schemes are fully represented through the trustees in drawing up the Occupational Pension Schemes. (Member-nominated Trustees and Directors) Regulations 1996. [17380]

Mr. Heald: Trustees of a trust scheme are not representative of a particular group or category of member. The interests of pensioner members will be fully considered because all trustees have a duty to consider the interests of all the beneficiaries of the pension fund. This aspect of trustees' conduct is a provision of trust law and is unaffected by the proposed Occupational Pension Schemes (Members-nominated Trustees and Directors) Regulations 1996.