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Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people he estimates were (a) eligible for and (b) in receipt of council tax benefit in (i) Hemel Hempstead and (ii) Hertfordshire in each year since 1997. 
Kitty Ussher: The latest estimates of the number of entitled non-recipients of means-tested benefit in Great Britain are published in the report Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-Up in 2006-07. These include council tax benefit, income support, pension credit, housing benefit and jobseeker's allowance (income-based). Copies are available in the Library.
|Number of recipients of council tax benefit in Hertfordshire as at May each year|
1. Data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple.
2. The figures have been rounded to the nearest 10.
3. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated.
4. Council tax benefit totals exclude any second adult rebate cases.
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent caseload stock-count taken in May 1997 to May 2007
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what percentage of the working-age population in West Chelmsford constituency received incapacity benefit in (a) June 2001, (b) May 2005 and (c) the latest period for which figures are available. 
The available information is in the following table.
|Incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance claimants as a percentage of the working age population in West Chelmsford parliamentary constituency|
1. Percentages are shown to one decimal place.
2. Percentages have been calculated based on the ONS mid year population estimates at constituency level which are experimental data and therefore not part of the National Statistics. These experimental statistics are still under evaluation by ONS and should be interpreted with caution.
3. Data is quarterly, rather than monthly. The closest quarter to June 2001 ends at May 2001.
4. Figures include incapacity benefit credits only and severe disablement allowance cases.
5. Incapacity benefit/severe disablement allowance caseload figures for parliamentary constituencies are published on the internet at:
The population estimates are published at:
DWP Information Directorate 100 per cent WPLS
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many claimants were in receipt of mortgage interest payment as part of income support in each Government Office Region in each of the last 10 years. 
|Number of income support claimants with mortgage interest payments, in Great Britain, by region|
|As at February each year|
1. Case load figures are rounded to the nearest hundred.
2. Totals may not sum due to rounding.
3. Figures have been produced from a 5 per cent. sample and uprated in line with 100 per cent. WPLS totals.
4. Figures for February 2004 onwards are affected by claimants aged 60 or over who transferred to pension credit in October 2003.
Department for Work and Pensions, Information Directorate, 5 per cent. sample.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to implement forthwith the change to eligibility for income support for mortgage interest payments planned for April 2009. 
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what administrative steps he plans to take (a) in reducing the present period for claims for income support for mortgage interest to 13 weeks by April 2009 and (b) in widening access to income support for mortgage interest arrangements to joint income households. 
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will reduce the qualification period for income support for mortgage interest to 13 weeks with immediate effect; 
Kitty Ussher [holding answer 3 November 2008]: We share the concerns about the need for early introduction of the changes to help with mortgage costs, and therefore we have brought forward the date of introduction. We now plan to introduce the changes to Support for Mortgage Interest in January, including the reduction of the waiting period to 13 weeks. This is the earliest practicable date when we can do so.
Support for Mortgage Interest is available to those homeowners who qualify for one of the income-related benefits, income support, income-based jobseekers allowance or income-related employment and support allowance. It is an integral component of those benefits. Couples are treated as a single unit in these benefits and if one member of a couple is in remunerative work of 16 hours or more, or has income which exceeds their entitlement, then they cannot receive the benefit. Only those couples who are not in remunerative work and who meet the other qualifying conditions of the benefit can receive Support for Mortgage Interest. This is intended to ensure that resources are directed to where they are most needed.
Where two or more people share a household and a mortgage, but are not a couple, they can individually receive Support for Mortgage Interest for their share of the mortgage interest payments, subject to their meeting the other qualifying conditions of the benefit.
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