HC Deb 04 July 1994 vol 246 cc12-3
16. Mr. Robathan

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the projected growth in his budget; and what plans he has to reduce it.

Mr. Lilley

Last year, I published "The Growth of Social Security", which showed that spending on social security was set to increase in real terms by 3.3 per cent. a year up to the end of the century. Since then, I have taken steps to curb this growth so that the benefits system does not outstrip the nation's ability to pay for it.

Mr. Robathan

I am grateful for that response. My right hon. Friend will know that many Conservative Members believe that the inexorable growth in his budget is one of the greatest problems facing the Government and the economy today. Will he ensure that vulnerable people are not penalised by his policies, but that we continue to bring the growth in the Department's budget strictly under control?

Mr. Lilley

Yes, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. The purpose of our review is to improve the system, to guarantee the position of those who are most in need, and to make sure that the social security system does not outstrip the nation's ability to pay for it.

Mr. Frank Field

Can the Secretary of State give the House his estimate of what the growth in social security expenditure will be following the cuts that he has announced during the past year?

Mr. Lilley

In response to the request from the hon. Gentleman, I will certainly be giving the Select Committee figures showing how the figures that I gave last year for the growth of social security spending are modified by the changes that we have announced since. These are not of course cuts; there will be continued growth in social security spending. Still, this is a move in the right direction, and I am glad to say that the figures will show some moderation in the expected growth.