The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1983-1987 Parliament

Mr Major’s Written Parliamentary Answer on Housing Benefit – 30 October 1986

Below is the text of Mr Major’s written Parliamentary Answer on Housing Benefit on 30th October 1986.

Mr. Clay Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish from the 1983 family expenditure survey (a) the number and percentage of those eligible claiming certificated, and standard housing benefit and housing benefit supplement, (b) the total amount of benefit unclaimed and (c) the average weekly amount of benefit unclaimed broken down according to the different groups of beneficiaries.

Mr. Major The 1983 family expenditure survey data are not regarded as reliable in respect of estimates of the take-up of housing benefit, as the survey was carried out in the same year as the changeover to the new scheme. The first take-up estimates of housing benefit are expected shortly, however, based on analysis of data from the 1984 family expenditure survey.

Mr. Meacher Asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the rent and rate increase each year since 1982; by how much the housing benefits needs allowance has been increased in each of these years, taking account of his statement of 22nd October; how many persons have lost each year that the the former has exceeded the latter; what was the total saving; what was the average individual loss and how many lost more than: (a) £1, (b) £2, and (c) £3 per week.

Mr. Major I think there may be a misunderstanding underlying the hon. Member’s question. Increases in rent and rate levels are reflected in standard housing benefit entitlement in two ways. 60 per cent. of the claimant’s actual rent and rates are reflected automatically in the benefit calculation, and this has never been altered. In addition, 40 per cent. of the national average rents and rates were reflected in the needs allowances under the traditional uprating formula which was used each year from November 1982 to November 1985 inclusive. For last July’s interim uprating it was not possible to use the traditional formula, as was explained at the time, because the measurement period for the uprating did not include the month of April when rents and rates normally increase. The approach used for next April’s uprating, together with details of the effects, were explained fully in my right hon. Friend’s statement to the House, and subsequent exchanges, on 22 October.