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Housing Benefit

Volume 555: debated on Monday 10 December 2012

9. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the implications of his proposed changes to housing benefit. (132035)

My noble Friend the Minister for Welfare Reform has met Welsh Ministers on several occasions to discuss welfare reform, including changes to housing benefit, and he maintains regular correspondence with them. In addition, officials from the Welsh Government are represented on a number of working groups relating to welfare reform.

Does the Minister accept that the 40,000 people in Wales who will be hit by the bedroom tax changes to housing benefit are either unemployed and long-term unemployed or, very often, are in work on low incomes? What advice would he as a Liberal Democrat offer? Would he encourage them to seek higher-paid jobs, to give up their homes or to take a massive cut in their income?

The impact of the social housing under-occupation measure is lower in Wales on average than it is in the rest of the United Kingdom. A range of options is open to those who face a shortfall. As the Minister with responsibility for disabilities, my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey) said, one of them arises when a set of people living in over-occupied accommodation need to move somewhere larger. Many social landlords are getting to know their tenants and their pattern of need, better juggling the housing stock, which is vital and to the benefit of all our constituents.