HC Deb 11 April 1984 vol 58 cc276-8W
Mr. Best

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will publish in the Official Report (a) the total cost, (b) the cost of administration and (c) the number of recipients of family income supplement for the last rive years for which records have been kept;

(2) if he will set out in the Official Report all means-tested benefits stating for each (a) the total cost, (b) the number of recipients and (c) the cost of administration for the last five years for which records have been kept.

Dr. Boyson

The following table gives the information in respect of the three main means-tested benefits for which DHSS is responsible:—supplementary benefit, housing benefit and family income supplement. Similar information in respect of other means-tested benefits could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Great Britain
Financial year
1979–80 1980–81 1981–82 1982–83 1983–84*
Supplementary Benefit
(a) Benefit cost (£ million) 2,436 3,172 4,840 6,263 5,693
(b) Recipients (annual average) 2,920,000 3,110,000 3,725,000 4,165,000 4,210,000
(c) Administrative cost (£ million) 323 408 507 593 660
Housing Benefit
(a) Benefit costs
Rent Rebates (£ million) 238 317 490 944 1,968
Rent Allowance (£ million) 40 48 64 73 510
Rate Rebates (£ million) 201 266 374 571 1,247
(b) Recipients (annual average)
Rent Rebates 1,205,000 1,330,000 1,590,000 3,050,000 3,605,000
Rent Allowances 220,000 240,000 250,000 265,000 830,000
Rate Rebates 3,065,000 3,345,000 3,705,000 4,925,000 6,855,000
(c) Administrative cost (£ million) 32 39 45 63 92
Family Income Supplement
(a) Benefit Cost (£ million) 27 42 66 94 125
(b) Recipients (annual average) 80,000 95,000 125,000 165,000 205,000
(c) Administrative cost (£ million) 1.5 2.1 3.2 4.5 4.7


1. Recipients may receive more than one benefit at any one time, for example, supplementary benefit recipients may receive housing benefit: housing benefit recipients may receive both rent and rate rebates. Numbers of recipients cannot therefore be aggregated to give a total.

2. The increase in housing benefit figures in 1982–83 and 1983–84 reflect the introduction of the new housing benefit scheme in November 1982 and April 1983. The supplementary benefit figures also reflect this change.

* Estimated.

Mr. Gerald Howarth

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the annual additional cost to his Department if war pensions were disregarded in full in calculating claimants' entitlement to supplementary benefit.

Dr. Boyson

Sufficient reliable data are not available to enable a precise calculation to be made of the cost of disregarding war pensions in full for supplementary benefit purposes but our best estimates, including that arising from additional claims attracted by such a provision, would be upwards of £50 million a year.

Sources: Annual Statistical Enquiry 1982

Family Expenditure Survey.

Mr. Home Robertson

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many people are currently in receipt of (a) supplementary benefit and (b) contributory benefit from the Portobello (Edinburgh) office of his Department; and what were the comparable figures for May 1979;

(2) how many staff in the Edinburgh, East office of his Department currently administer (a) supplementary benefit and (b) contributory benefit; and what are the comparable figures for May 1979.

Mr. Newton

[pursuant to his replies, 30 March 1984, c. 351]: Statistics of those receiving contributory benefits are not maintained by local office; they are for supplementary benefit. Hence the difference in the side headings in the table. The figures for staffing give the local office complement—the staff determined to be necessary to cope with the work load by the Department's local office complementing system—a guide to which is in the Library. Staff in post figures for February 1984 are in brackets.

May 1979 February 1984
Claims to contributory benefits over a four-week period 2,645 724
Supplementary benefit claims in action 6,300 10,000
Contributory benefit staff 64 39 (42)
Supplementary benefit staff 83 110 (112)

The hon. Member will wish to bear in mind that simple comparison over time of the number of people claiming or receiving benefits with staff numbers is misleading since it takes no account of intervening changes in work procedures.