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Benefits

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

18. To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what progress is being made in improving processing times for housing benefit claims. (76110)

My Department is working closely with local authorities, and as a result the average time taken to process new housing benefit and council tax benefit claims has been cut by over two weeks. There have been further improvements in the first three quarters of 2005-06, with the national average improving to 36 days.

We continue to target the poorest performing local authorities and as a result this is where we are seeing the most significant improvements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the take-up rate of council tax benefit was in each year since 1996-97; and how many pensioners (a) were entitled to and (b) received council tax benefit in each such year. (70300)

The latest available estimates for council tax benefit take-up is in “Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take Up in 2003/2004”, a copy of which is in the Library.

Estimates of the number of pensioners entitled to council tax benefit in each year and the number of pensioner households in receipt of council tax benefit in May each year are in the following tables. As the information in the different tables is not on a consistent basis, they should not be used in conjunction to derive an estimate of the take-up of council tax benefit.

Number of pensioners entitled to CTB in each year

1996-97

3,370,000 to 3,920,000

1997-98

3,240,000 to 3,790,000

1998-99

3,500,000 to 3,800,000

1999-2000

3,520,000 to 3,870,000

2000-01

3,460,000 to 3,800,000

2001-02

3,770,000 to 4,130,000

2002-03

3,810,000 to 4,170,000

2003-04

4,060,000 to 4,460,000

Notes: 1. Estimates of the numbers entitled are given as ranges in order to account for possible biases inherent in estimates from data that is less than perfect. They also take account of the effects of sampling variation. 2. Estimates cover all those aged 60 and over in the private household population of Great Britain. The data source is the Family Resources Survey. 3. For the purposes of this analysis, the unit of analysis is the benefit unit. This is either a single person aged at least 60 years old or, if a couple, both will be termed pensioners if one is aged at least 60 years old. This is consistent with the definition used in “Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up” publications. 4. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest 10 thousand. 5. Comparing estimates over time is not straightforward. Our estimates allow for biases, which can change from year to year; but we cannot be sure of the extent or effects of changes. Therefore, any analysis of changes over time should be made with caution.

Council tax benefit recipients aged 60 and over: Great Britain

As at May each year

Number

1996

2,717,000

1997

2,646,000

1998

2,614,000

1999

2,542,000

2000

2,419,000

2001

2,403,000

2002

2,362,000

2003

2,357,000

Notes: 1. The figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation. 2. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 3. Caseloads have been rounded to the nearest thousand. 4. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated. 5. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases. 6. Council tax benefit totals exclude any second adult rebate cases. 7. “Aged 60 and over” is defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 and over. Therefore figures will contain some claimants aged under 60 where there is a partner aged over 60 years. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System, Annual 1 per cent. sample, taken in May 1996 to 2003.

Council tax benefit recipients aged 60 and over: Great Britain

As at May each year

Number

2004

2,406,780

2005

2,444,470

Notes: 1. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 2. Caseloads have been rounded to the nearest ten. 3. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated. 4. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases. 5. Council tax benefit totals exclude any second adult rebate cases. 6. “Aged 60 and over” is defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 and over. Therefore figures will contain some claimants aged under 60 where there is a partner aged over 60 years. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in May 2004 and 2005.