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Housing Benefit

Volume 205: debated on Friday 13 March 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many recipients of housing benefit who are also receiving income support are aged (a) 16–17, (b) 18–19, (c) 20, (d) 21, (e) 22, (f) 23 and (g) 24 years;(2) how many recipients of housing benefit are aged

(a) 16–17, (b) 18–19, (c) 20, (d) 21, (e) 22, (f) 23 and (g) 24 years.

The available estimates are in the table:

Number of housing benefit recipients in Great Britain—May 1990
Age of recipientWith income supportWithout income supportAll cases

Source: The Housing Benefit and Community Charge Benefit Management Information System annual 1 per cent. sample.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment he has made of the extent to which local authorities have complied with the requirements of regulation 66 of Housing Benefits (General) Regulations 1987; what is the effect of non-compliance on voted expenditure for subsidies in respect of authorities' benefit expenditure; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware that in the years 1989–90, 1990–91 and 1991–92 some local authorities in Great Britain have not complied with the requirements of the regulations and have continued to make awards of benefit without undertaking reviews at the prescribed time. In such cases, the effect of the regulations is that authorities are only entitled to direct subsidy at the rate proper for overpayments resulting from the authorities' error; 15 per cent. of benefit expenditure in respect of allowances and rebates not paid through the housing revenue accounts and nil in respect of rebates paid through the housing revenues accounts. Subsidy which has been paid in excess of these rates has not therefore been paid in accordance with the full requirements of the regulations.In the vast majority of cases, however, it is likely that the overrun awards represented the claimants' correct benefit entitlements and would have attracted full subsidy had the awarding authorities complied with the review requirements in the regulations. I therefore propose that authorities should examine all overdue review cases and bring them to account by 5 October 1992. In cases where authorities have awarded more benefit than they would if they had carried out reviews at the prescribed time, they will receive reduced subsidy in the normal way. Where, however there would have been no change in benefit following a review at the prescribed time, I propose to allow full subsidy. From 5 October, I propose to introduce a new subsidy penalty for failure to comply with regulation 66, in addition to those already in place for overpayments. The new penalty will be proportionate to the number of cases outstanding and the length of time they remain unreviewed.Subject to consultation with the local authority associations and the local authorities about these proposals, the necessary provisions will be brought forward in the relevant subsidy order and determinations.