Minister takes up key Committee recommendation on Housing Benefit

31 January 2011

The Work and Pensions Committee has welcomed the commitment by Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare Reform, that the Department for Work and Pensions will review the impact of the changes to Housing Benefit announced in the June Budget

This decision represents acceptance by the Government of the Committee’s  recommendation that “The Government fully evaluate the impact of the changes to Housing Benefit introduced in 2012, including rent levels”. [Second Report of 2012-11 Changes to Housing Benefit announced in the June 2010 Budget, para 50]

The Minister said on 24 January that he was making “a firm commitment” to commission independent external research into the impact of the reforms. This will include “homelessness and moves; the shared room rate and houses in multiple occupation; what is happening in Greater London; what is happening in rural communities; what is happening in black and minority ethnic households; large families; older people; people with disabilities and working claimants.” [HL Deb 24 January 2011, col 778]

The Chair of the Committee, Dame Anne Begg, said:

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to an independent and external review of its planned changes to Housing Benefit. This was a key recommendation in our Report on the changes, published last December. At that time, I highlighted how difficult it is to predict exactly what the impact of these changes will be. We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement of the need to closely monitor the implications for claimants. We look forward to assessing the outcome of the review.”

The Committee also recommended that the Government should monitor:

  • the effect of the policy on large families during implementation to enable policymakers to respond to any impact on child poverty (Paragraph 64)
  • the cumulative impact of all the measures on disabled people (Paragraph 72)
  • the costs to local government of the policy changes (Paragraph 121)
  • Discretionary Housing Payments, to ensure that any shortfalls and unmet needs are identified and acted upon swiftly (Paragraph 140)
  • How the changes are likely to impact on tenants’ ability to access the bottom third of the market (Paragraph 160)
  • The extent to which tenants make up the difference and landlords accept lower rents in particular Broad Rental Market Areas (Paragraph (167).

To read the full Report from the Committee, please see The Changes to Housing Benefit announced in the June 2010 Budget (PDF 1.12MB). The Government’s full formal response to the report is expected by the end of February.

Image: iStockphoto 

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