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Housing Benefit

Volume 127: debated on Thursday 11 February 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what provision he has made in his public expenditure plans for additional funding to meet increased housing benefit costs arising from the proposed deregulation of the privately rented sector.

The public expenditure plans published in Cm. 288 include provision for increased expenditure on housing benefit as a consequence of the Government's proposals to remove controls on new private lettings of some £10 million in 1988–89 rising to some £80 million at the end of the survey period. As explained in Cm. 288, the plans also allow for rents in the private sector to increase in real terms by 3 per cent. per year over the survey period.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take urgent steps to pay housing benefit due to residents for part III accommodation in Wakefield metropolitan district council for 1985–86 and 1986–87; what has been the cause of the delay; and if he will make a statement.

The administration of the housing benefit scheme, including the payments of awards of benefit, is the responsibility of local authorities. The Department has, however, withheld subsidy payments to a number of local authorities, including Wakefield, in respect of awards of housing benefit made to residents of part III accommodation. This is because we need to be satisfied that local authorities dealt with such claims in accordance with the regulations and detailed information from each of the authorities concerned is now being considered. I regret the delay, but final decisions on settlement will be taken once this process has been completed, which will be done as quickly as possible.