Skip to main content

Social Security Benefits: Arrears

Volume 486: debated on Monday 12 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his Department’s latest estimate is of the effect on its expenditure from changing the backdating period for (a) pension credit, (b) council tax benefit and (c) housing benefit; and if he will make a statement. (240521)

The proposal to change the allowed length of backdating from 12 months to three months was part of a wider package of pensions measures to increase take-up and make benefit processes simpler. Older people will be able to claim pension credit, housing benefit and council tax benefit in one phone call without having to fill in, sign or return any claim forms. This will benefit thousands of pensioners often put off by complicated claim forms and the fear of large amounts of personal information being required. Over the long-term the package results in extra expenditure for pensioners, rising to £250 million per year by 2050.

For working age people, the Government’s response to the Social Security Advisory Committer’s consultation report, published on 15 September, recognised arguments presented by the committee on the potential effect of the changes to Housing benefit and council benefit backdating on vulnerable groups and announced that backdating for housing benefit for working age customers will move initially to 6 months rather than three months. Details of the estimated costs and savings associated with the original proposals in the wider package of measures can be found in the SSAC report.