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Benefits Cap

Volume 555: debated on Monday 10 December 2012

Although there is no specific exemption from the cap for carers, in practice most carers will be exempt because their partner or child is in receipt of disability living allowance. In addition, there are exemptions for people in work that can also apply to carers. Under universal credit, carers need only work the equivalent of 16 hours a week at the national minimum wage to be exempt.

I am grateful to the Minister for that response, but it is not quite correct. Close reading of the regulations indicates that a household comprising parents and a disabled adult dependant receiving disability living allowance will not be exempt from the cap, despite the Minister’s promises that they would be. I am sure the Minister appreciates that this is causing great anxiety to those potentially affected. Will she undertake to fix this problem?

Should there be another adult in the house, that is then a separate household, so both have to be assessed separately. However, I reiterate the fact that those who are exempt from the cap include those on working tax credit, all households with someone who is in receipt of a disability-related benefit, war widows and widowers, and those in receipt of war disablement pensions. A lot of people are therefore exempt.

Ministers have repeatedly stressed that a household containing anyone in receipt of disability living allowance will not be affected by the benefit cap, but constituents of mine who have an adult disabled child are now being told they will be affected by the cap because the regulations appear to state that if a family has an adult severely disabled person living in the household, that person is not a member of the household. Please will the Minister clarify whether the benefit cap will apply to someone who is looking after a severely disabled adult child?

I will reiterate what a household is: a household is a basic family unit, and for the purposes of paying out-of-work benefits that will be a single adult or a couple and children, so once another adult is in the house, that is a separate household. [Interruption.] That has been the definition for a very long time. However, in the instances the hon. Lady mentions, discretionary payments are available and will come to fruition. [Interruption.] There is no point in Opposition Members huffing and puffing. That is the situation, and an extra £30 million has been put in place for this. [Interruption.]

Order. I have no idea what the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (John Robertson) had for breakfast this morning. All I can say is that he is a bear growling exceptionally, and some would say excessively, loudly this afternoon.