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Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his latest estimate, for each region, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as a whole of (a) the numbers claiming supplementary benefit, (b) the numbers dependent on claims for suppplementary benefit, (c) the numbers claiming housing benefit, and (d) the numbers dependent on claims for housing benefit.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will uprate the proposed new basic benefit levels and premium levels contained in the technical appendix of his "Social Security Reform" White Paper (a) to April 1987 levels and prices and (b) taking into account the Treasury assumptions for price rises in 1987–88, at April 1988 levels and prices; and if he will estimate the difference between premium payments for each of the categories of beneficiary.

The rates given in the technical annex to the White Paper were illustrative only, and a simple scaling of the figures in line with an assumed movement in prices would he misleading, the actual rates to be used in April 1988 will be decided nearer the time in the light of all the information then available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many persons previously registering as unemployed and claiming unemployment or supplementary benefit have, in the last 12 months been transferred to sickness benefit claims.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any plans to change the rules governing the payment of suppplementary benefit to women who have received compensation for having been raped.

Payments made by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to victims of rape are treated for supplementary benefit purposes in the same way as any other payment of compensation for personal or criminal injury. They can be disregarded for up to two years, or even longer where it is considered reasonable to do so, if the money is put into a trust fund. They are then subject to the normal capital rules: benefit is not payable if a person has more than £3,000 capital.We have no immediate plans to change this, but we are proposing changes in the income support scheme, which replaces supplementary benefit from April 1988, which would be beneficial to anyone receiving compensation for criminal injury. The two-year disregard of money put into a trust fund will be allowed automatically. In addition, the capital limit will be doubled from £3,000 to £6,000, but an income will be assumed for each band of £250 between £3,000 and £6,000. There must, however, be a limit to the value of capital that can be disregarded in an income-related benefit scheme, and we consider that these proposals strike a reasonable balance between the aims. of a scheme that provides compensation from public funds and an income replacement scheme.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will provide estimates of the numbers of (a) family income supplement recipients and (b) standard housing benefit recipients by earnings distribution using the following ranges of gross weekly earnings: (i) below £80, (ii) £80 to £90, (iii) £90 to £100, (iv) £100 to £110, (v) £110 to £120 and (vi) above £120; and if he will indicate the average amount of benefit paid to those falling within each of these ranges.

[pursuant to his reply, 3 April 1987. c. 656]: The following table gives the information for family income supplement recipients, except that it is not possible to give a breakdown of weekly earnings above £90.

Analysis of FIS families by gross earnings1 of head—April 1986— Great Britain
Gross earnings of headNumber of families in receipt of FISAverage payment of FIS
Below £80115,00018·20
£80 to £89·9934,0008·70
£90 and above51,0006·10
1 Earnings include profits from self-employment and relate to the date of FIS claim.
I regret that it is not possible to provide reliable figures for housing benefit recipients in work.