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Volume 403: debated on Tuesday 8 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to his answer of 31 March 2003, Official Report, column 586W, on benefits, if he will set out the estimates that his Department had made for planning purposes prior to issuing invitation letters. [107091]

According to our customer research, 85 per cent. of our customers have access to a suitable bank/building society account. We expect the vast majority of these customers will opt for payment to be made into their existing account.Of the 15 per cent. of customers who currently do not have a suitable account we believe some will opt to open a current account, some will open a basic bank account and some will open a Post Office card account.We have always recognised that there will be some customers for whom Direct Payment is not an option. We are currently exploring alternative ways in which these customers could receive their money.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the cost to (a) central and (b) local government of administering council tax benefit in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [102866]

Central Government's subsidy to local authorities for the administration of council tax benefit during 2000–01 amounted to £155.1 million. Of this sum, £74.2 million was funded by this Department using a formula agreed with the Local Authority Associations, and based mainly on the size of the council tax benefit caseloads, with additional elements for accommodation and staffing costs.The remaining £80.9 million was funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Executive through the Revenue Support Grant (Grant Aided Expenditure in Scotland) within their local government finance settlements.Reported expenditure by local authorities amounted to £229.9 million. Local authorities account for their expenditure in very different ways. For example some will provide a cost net of additional grants from the Department. Because the data reported by authorities do not reflect a uniform accounting standard across authorities, reported expenditure across all authorities may not be directly comparable with the grants paid figures.From 2003–04, administration subsidy for both housing benefit and council tax benefit will be funded entirely by this Department as one direct grant to local authorities.


1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest £100,000.

2. Reported local authority expenditure figures are subject to revision by local authorities.


Administration subsidy figures

1. Social Security Income Related Benefits (Subsidy to Authorities) Amendment Orders 2000.

2. ODPM Revenue Support Grant Settlement 2000–01.

3. Welsh Authorities—included within Revenue Support Grant Settlement 2000–01.

4. Scottish authorities; "Grant Aided Expenditure 2000–01".

Local authority expenditure figures

1. English authorities—reports to the ODPM, and its predecessors/using form RO4.

2. Welsh authorities—reports to the Welsh Assembly using form RO4.

3. Scottish authorities—reports to the Scottish Executive using Local Financial Return LFR9.

4. Figures are subject to revision by local authorities.