§ Martin Linton
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will change the rules on payment of interest on mortgages for social security claimants, with special reference to pensioners, where the difference between the average local rate and the standard national rate is greater than two per cent. 
§ Malcolm Wicks
We have no plans to change the current rules. Unlike most other benefit recipients, pensioners claiming Minimum Income Guarantee can get help with mortgage interest payments from the outset of their claims rather than having to serve a waiting period.
The standard interest rate was introduced in October 1995 and is based upon the weighted average of the basic rates charged by the major building societies. It was introduced as an administrative easement in a complex area of benefit calculation, which had been highlighted in critical reports by the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee. Any changes would re-introduce this complexity and go against our commitment to simplify benefit administration wherever possible.