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Housing Benefit

Volume 475: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much in housing benefit has been paid to tenants of (a) housing associations and (b) local authorities and local authority arms length management organisations since 1997; and what estimate he has made of the effect on the level of payments in each of those years of tenants transferring from council management to registered social landlords as part of stock transfers. (203535)

The available information for local authorities and registered social landlords is in the table.

Information is not available separately for arms length management organisations.

We have not made an estimate of the cost to public funds of paying the housing benefit of tenants transferred from council tenancies to registered social landlords since 1997. To determine such a figure would require detailed assumptions about the rents each authority might theoretically have charged had it retained the stock. However, the potential impact on housing benefit where stock is transferred to registered social landlords is considered as part of the overall value-for-money assessment of transfers.

Housing benefit paid to tenants of local authorities and registered social landlords (RSL)

£million

1997-98

1998-99

1999-2000

2000-01

2001-02

Local authority expenditure

5,498

5,405

5,345

5,258

5,282

RSL expenditure

2,242

2,480

2,753

3,053

3,482

Housing benefit paid to tenants of local authorities and registered social landlords (RSL)

£ million

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

20005-06

20006-07

Local authority expenditure

5,405

5,027

5,200

5,263

5,368

RSL expenditure

4,199

4,291

4,603

4,950

5,328

Notes: 1. The figures are nominal costs for the whole of Great Britain. 2. The figures are total amounts paid to beneficiaries, irrespective of the source of funding, and include benefit spending reimbursed by DWP, spending on rent rebates financed within local authorities' housing revenue accounts, and benefit spending financed from local authorities' general funds. 3 The figures reflect the latest benefit-by-benefit estimate of out-turn, and not the amounts voted by Parliament. 4. Figures for 1999-2000 onwards are on a resource accounting and budgeting basis. There may be differences between figures quoted in these tables and those quoted in Department for Work and Pensions accounts. 5. Figures for past years may have changed since previous publication due to changes in methodology and the incorporation of more up-to-date information. 6. Figures exclude asylum seekers from April 1999, since when the National Asylum Support Service has reimbursed DWP for benefits paid to asylum seekers. 7. Separation of rent allowance into private rental sector and registered social landlord elements is an estimate derived from the quarterly administrative data on caseloads and average awards, and the figures should therefore be treated as indicative.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate his Department has made of the cost to the public purse in additional housing benefit payments which would arise from each £1 increase in council and registered social landlord rents. (203664)

The increased yearly cost in additional housing benefit payments for each £1 increase in council and registered social landlord rents is estimated to be around £165 million.

Notes:

1. The estimated cost is rounded to the nearest £5 million.

2. The estimated cost is based on a £1 increase in weekly rent.

3. The estimated cost does not include floaters-on as a result of a £1 increase in rent.

Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in February 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people claiming (a) housing benefit and (b) council tax benefit have had their benefit backdated by between three and 12 months. (203685)

The information is not available.

Our ability to provide this breakdown is restricted by the breadth and reliability of the data available to us.

As part of the Equality Impact Assessment, we have provided an estimate of the proportion of housing benefit and council tax benefit case loads affected by the proposals to reduce the backdating facilities to three months. There are, however, important caveats to these estimates which must be noted.

A copy of the Equality Impact Assessment has been placed in the Library. It is also available on the Department for Work and Pensions website at:

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/resourcecentre/PC-HB-CTB-EIA-Apr08.pdf

Figures on the number of successful backdating claims are derived from the Single Housing Benefit Extract (HBSD-IAD scan). The backdating variable in the Single Housing Benefit Extract was introduced relatively recently in April 2007 and accordingly we have no means of corroborating the data’s robustness against historical data. Furthermore, given that the data only goes back six months, we currently have an insufficient pool of evidence to derive reliable figures from the data. These concerns should be allayed with time as the scan data improves.

Based on the first six months of data available, it is estimated that approximately 0.2 per cent. of new housing benefit and council tax benefit claims would be affected. These figures may be subject to revision as more data becomes available.