13. What estimate he has made of the average cost of adapting properties for disabled people who move home because of the under-occupancy penalty. (900561)
We have provided local authorities with £25 million of discretionary housing payments this year to assist under-occupying disabled people who live in significantly adapted accommodation and who are affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy to remain in their homes.
Does the Minister agree that it makes absolutely no sense to move people who have had their homes adapted to other homes where they are in danger of having to incur further costs on the public purse? I have heard from people who received a discretionary housing payment in the first round, and they are now being told that they will not get one. Will the Minister assure my constituents, and those across the country, that they will not be forced out of their homes when they have a disability?
The fund is discretionary so it is up to local authorities—including those in Scotland—to decide how to spend the money. We would obviously expect them to take into account the public money spent on that property previously, and consider what is in the best interests of the tenant.
I welcome the Minister to his new responsibilities.
More than half of those hit by the bedroom tax are disabled, and nine out of 10 disabled people who are not receiving discretionary housing benefit are cutting back on food or bills and having to choose between heating or eating. Does the Minister advise them to put on another jumper, skip a meal, or move to a non-adapted property that then has to be adapted at huge cost to the taxpayer?
I, too, welcome the hon. Lady to her post.
I would not presume to advise an individual at all; each individual must make up their own mind about how they will adapt to a change in circumstances. I advise local authorities, housing associations and local advice bureaux to work holistically with each tenant affected by the policy, and to consider what advice and support can be given so that they can transition to the new arrangements.