§ Mr. Nicholas Baker
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider providing for direct payment of rent to local authorities by his Department in respect of council house tenants who are in receipt of social security payments.
§ Mr. Prentice
Provision already exists for direct payment of rent to local authorities in respect of council tenants receiving supplementary benefit who persistently default on their rent. There are no plans for extending the criteria for these arrangements. Both the Supplementary Benefits Commission and I think that people on supplementary benefit should in general be left free to manage their affairs themselves; and there is also a need to restrict to a minimum the extra work which the direct payment of rent causes for the staff of my right hon. Friend's Department. National insurance benefits, unlike supplementary benefit, do not include an element specifically attributable to rent. There is no ground, therefore, for interfering with the freedom of national insurance beneficiaries to arrange their financial affairs as they wish.