asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will give the figure, for the latest date available, of the amount of money paid out by his Department in the form of rent subsidy for council house tenants in England and Wales.
I assume that the hon. Member refers to the inclusion of housing costs in the assessment of a claimant's entitlement to supplementary benefit. It is estimated that at August 1978 there were 1·3 million local authority tenants in England and Wales receiving supplementary benefit and that the average weekly amount included for rent and rates was £7·50. But because supplementary benefit tops up a claimant's other income, if any, to a specific level, it is not possible to say how much of the total benefit expenditure is attributable to rent.