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To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of this year's council tax increases upon (a) council tax benefit expenditure and (b) the numbers of households subjected to council tax benefit restrictions.
Our estimated forecast for council tax benefit expenditure in 2003–04 is £3,387 million. This is £130 million more than if average council tax had increased by the same rate as in 2002–03.
The amount of council tax benefit paid to households in properties in council tax bands F, G or H is restricted to the amount payable for council tax band E, regardless of the amount of council tax payable. An increase in council tax would not therefore have an impact on the number of existing benefit recipients subject to restrictions. The impact of council tax increases on the number of households that might make a new claim for council tax benefit, who would subsequently be subject to restrictions, is estimated to be negligible.
Source:DWP Information and Analysis Directorate. Expenditure forecasts are consistent with those produced for Budget 2003.