§ Mr. Andrew Bowden
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many claims had been made for housing benefit transitional payments by 8 June; and how many claims had been successful;
(2) if he will extend the deadline for housing benefit transitional payments beyond 30 June;
(3) if he will state the total number of successful claims as a proportion of the number of households estimated to be entitled to housing benefit transitional payments;
(4) what further steps he is taking to publicise the availability of housing benefit transitional payments.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
[holding answer on 16 June 1989]: Housing benefit transitional payments are intended to provide help to vulnerable groups of people who experienced reductions in their housing benefit as a result of changes introduced by the Government in April 1988. Two national press publicity campaigns were undertaken, more than 8 million leaflets RR4 "Housing Benefit New Rules" were made available and posters were displayed in post offices. Further publicity is not considered necessary.
The closing date for the receipt of applications was originally 31 March 1989 but this was extended by a full three months to 30 June to ensure optimum take-up. As the scheme was intended to assist people only during the transition to the new scheme in April 1988 it would be inappropriate to extend the deadline any further.
It was originally estimated that up to 300,000 people might be eligible for payment. Up to 8 June 477,687 applications had been received and 198,916 awards made but some 26,000 applications have yet to be decided pending return of inquiry forms for housing benefit details from local authorities. Final figures will not, therefore, be available until all applications have been received and processed. Given the uncertainty which attaches to the original estimate it is not possible to calculate meaningful take-up estimates.