§ Mr. Murphy
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the outcome of the partial start to the housing benefit scheme.
§ Mr. Rossi
The partial start to housing benefit involved the withdrawal of housing costs from the supplementary332W benefit payments of 1.4 million local authority tenants and the award to them of 100 per cent. rent and rate rebates by the local authority. Reports from the DHSS regions indicate that the position on 22 November was as follows:
DHSS local offices Local authorities Work completed by 22 November 428 (95 per cent.) 377 (79 per cent.) Will complete by 4 December 10 (2 per cent.) 90 (19 per cent.) More than two weeks late 14* (3 per cent.) 12† (2 per cent.) *11 are involved in industrial action. †Six authorities are linked to DHSS offices involved in industrial action.
The table indicates that the great majority of local offices and local authorities have carried out this major, administrative exercise efficiently and on time. I am happy to pay tribute to their efforts.