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Students

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 5 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the total saving to public expenditure expected in respect of the proposed withdrawal of students' entitlement to (i) housing benefit, (ii) unemployment benefit and (iii) income support in this and the next financial year.

The Government's proposal is to withdraw housing benefit, unemployment benefit and income support entitlement from full-time students from the start of the 1990–91 academic year. The reduction in public expenditure from these benefit changes in the current financial year is estimated at £29 million. This reduction arises from housing benefit only, since students are not currently eligible for unemployment benefit during term time and the short vacations. Similarly, the vast majority of full-time students are ineligible for income support other than in the long summer vacation. In the next financial year reductions in public expenditure are estimated to be £51 million from housing benefit and £28 million from income support and unemployment benefit. It is not possible to provide a disaggregated figure for unemployment benefit as separate details of claims are not kept.The reduction in public expenditure arising from these benefits changes will be more than offset by a total of over £200 million which is being made available in the next academic year through the student loans scheme and access funds.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the total numbers of students currently in receipt of (i) housing benefit, (ii) income support during the long vacation and (iii) unemployment benefit during the long vacation.

Provisional quarterly figures for February 1990 indicate that around 90,000 students were in receipt of housing benefit at that time. This figure includes those receiving rate rebate only as well as those receiving rent allowance and rent rebate. The number of students receiving rent allowances or rent rebates can be separately identified only from the annual one in 100 sample of cases. Figures for May 1989 should be available shortly. A special exercise conducted in DSS local offices in the 1989 summer vacation identified 135,000 student claims for income support lasting, on average, six weeks. I regret that information on the numbers of students receiving unemployment benefit is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what information his Department collects on the numbers of students claiming housing benefit, unemployment benefit and income support.

Information on the number of students claiming housing benefit is obtained from a quarterly count of cases by local authorities and from the annual one in 100 sample of case details.Details of the numbers of students registered as unemployed are collected on a monthly basis and

published in the

Employment Gazette. It is not, however, possible to differentiate between those claiming unemployment benefit and those claiming income support.

A special exercise was mounted in the 1989 summer vacation to provide details of student claims to income support, including numbers claiming, duration of claim and amount of benefit paid.