Yesterday saw a government defeat in the House of Lords when Amendment 12 moved by Lord Best (Crossbench) challenged housing costs set out in the bill.
The amendment, grouped with 14 and 49 of a similar theme, covers the new 'bedroom tax' with an underoccupation penalty for council and housing association tenants. The amendment was also backed by organisations like the National Housing Federation and Shelter.
Lord Best outlined: 'The bill paves the way for a much tougher test than at present, with a hefty underoccupation penalty - a cut to the housing benefit - for those whose accommodation fails the new test. Currently...a household in council housing or a housing association home is deemed to be underoccupying only if it has two or more bedrooms above the basic bedroom standard. One spare room is permitted. Under the Department for Work and Pensions' proposed new definition, one so-called spare room would not be allowed.'
He argued that under the new test, many families would have to downsize to somewhere smaller: 'Under the fierce new test, a family would be counted as underoccupying if, for example, two teenage girls were not sharing the same room, or if an older couple, one of whom is below pension age, have a two-bedroom flat. If they do not, even if there is simply nowhere smaller for them to move to, then they must pay the new penalty. Six hundred and seventy thousand households receiving housing benefit will be caught in this trap, rising to some 740,000 in the years ahead.'
In the division (vote), the amendment was 'agreed' (won) by a healthy majority in the House of Lords (258 Members were 'content' and 190 were 'not content').
Catch up on day one of the report stage (Monday 12 December)
Watch the debate on Parliament TV
Read the Lords Hansard transcript
Welfare Reform Bill: Key areas
The bill introduces Personal Independence Payments to replace the current Disability Living Allowance:
- It restricts Housing Benefit entitlement for social housing tenants whose accommodation is larger than needed.
- It will up-rate Local Housing Allowance rates by the Consumer Price Index.
- It amends the forthcoming statutory child maintenance scheme.
- Payment of contributory Employment and Support Allowance is limited to a 12-month period.
- The total amount of benefit that can be claimed will be capped.
Catch up on the Welfare Reform Bill
What is the report stage?
Report stage in the Chamber gives all Members of the Lords further opportunity to consider all amendments (proposals for change) to a bill. It usually starts at least 14 days after committee stage. It can be spread over several days (but usually fewer days than at committee stage).
Before report stage takes place
- The day before report stage starts, amendments are published in a Marshalled List – in which all the amendments are placed in order.
- On the day, amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a list (“groupings of amendments”) is published.
What happens at report stage?
- Detailed line by line examination of the bill continues.
- Votes can take place and any Member can take part.
What happens after report stage?
- If the bill is amended it is reprinted to include all the agreed amendments.
- The bill moves to third reading for the final chance for the Lords to debate and amend the bill.
More about the report stage
Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of a bill takes place during report stage.
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