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Housing Benefit

Volume 554: debated on Wednesday 28 November 2012

11. What assessment he has made of the likely effect of changes to housing benefit on people in Wales. (129643)

Information on the expected impact in Wales and across Great Britain of our housing benefit reforms is set out in the relevant impact assessments.

Many of my constituents who are in work on low incomes face an unpalatable choice in April next year. Do they face unaffordable increases in rent, do they downsize to non-existent one-bedroom flats, or do they make themselves homeless? What advice would the Minister give, particularly at a time when the Government are giving a tax cut to millionaires?

Many, many people in work face exactly the same difficult choices about their living arrangements as the ones that the right hon. Gentleman described. One of the central principles of our reforms is that people receiving benefits should have to make the same practical decisions about their living accommodation as people in work.

Many disabled constituents have come to me because, despite having had to make adjustments to their homes simply to accommodate their disability, they now face being kicked out for having an extra bedroom. Does the Minister think that is fair in the 21st century?

The Government are making available transitional funds to help people who have made significant adaptations to their homes in order to cope with serious disability—exactly the circumstances the hon. Gentleman describes—because we recognise that there is a vulnerability and we want to protect those people.

Does my hon. Friend recognise that the housing benefit budget in this country is £23 billion and that 5 million receive it? With a budget of that size, surely it is appropriate that the Government are demonstrating to the taxpayer that they are working to get value for money.

My hon. Friend is exactly right, but our reforms are based not just on the need to achieve value for money for the taxpayer. Underpinning our welfare reforms is the need to elevate the principle of making work pay and to ensure much greater fairness in the way our welfare system is delivered.