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Volume 115: debated on Tuesday 5 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give a breakdown, by type of beneficiary and type of benefit, of the savings that accrue from the existence of the overlapping benefit regulations, and of the total of these savings each year since 1979.

There are a number of contingencies such as sickness, unemployment, disability, pregnancy, retirement and widowhood which since the start of the national insurance scheme in 1948 have brought into play the overlapping benefits provisions. Because more than one of the contingencies may apply simultaneously to the same person, it is not possible to provide a breakdown of benefit savings from the overlapping benefit provisions. However, if, contrary to well-established practice, entitlement to income maintenance benefits did not overlap, it is estimated that aggregated benefit expenditure would be increased in 1986 prices by some £5 billion.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received from (a) local authorities, (b) local authority associations and (c) other organisations or bodies regarding the proposed new housing benefit arrangements to be introduced in April 1988; and if he will make a statement.

The changes to the housing benefit scheme proposed for 1988 have been the subject of wide and continuous consultation since the Green paper "Reform of Social Security" (Cmnd. 9517) was published in June 1985.Most recently, the local authority associations were consulted under statutory arrangements on the draft regulations giving effect to the changes. Their comments ranged widely, covering major issues such as the level of maximum benefit as well as a great many suggestions on points of detail.The draft regulations were also distributed for information to individual local authorities and to other organisations on request. A number of representations were made as a result, again ranging from comments on major issues to purely technical points. A revised version of the draft regulations will be issued shortly following our careful consideration of the comments we received.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list for each region, including Scotland and Wales, his most recent estimate of the total numbers (a) claiming and (b) dependent on supplementary benefits; and if he will also list the numbers: (1) claiming supplementary allowance, (2) claiming supplementary pension, (3) dependent on supplementary pensions and (4) dependent on supplementary allowance.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will publish details of the changes in total statutory sick pay and sickness benefit expenditure on short term sickness in each year from 1983–84 to 1986–87 that resulted from the introduction of statutory sick pay and the April 1986 changes showing, as far as possible (1) expenditure changes that resulted from the replacement of sickness benefit rates with a different structure of statutory sick pay rates, (2) expenditure changes that resulted from administrative changes, (3) estimated revenue from statutory sick pay tax and national insurance liability and (4) the expenditure effects of other changes;(2) if he will publish details of total expenditure on short term sickness in each year from 1979–80 to 1986–87 showing, as far as possible (1) a breakdown of expenditure between sickness benefit and statutory sick pay, (2) a breakdown between administrative costs and actual payments of the two types of support, (3) the average weekly payment made under the two types of provision and (4) supplementary benefit and related housing benefit expenditure on the short term sick;(3) if he will publish details of claims for statutory sick pay and expenditure on statutory sick pay for each year of its operation showing, as far as possible (1) the total number of claims and payments made, (2) the extent of overpayment and underpayment by employers, (3) total expenditure on the scheme, (4) a breakdown of this expenditure between statutory sick pay payments and administrative costs and (5) an estimate of the costs of statutory sick pay payments net of tax and national insurance revenue.

I shall let the hon. Member have the information that is available as soon as possible.