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Young Vulnerable Adults: Universal Credit

Volume 660: debated on Monday 13 May 2019

4. What steps the Government are taking to support young vulnerable adults in receipt of universal credit who live in supported accommodation. (910835)

As announced in August last year, housing costs for all claimants in supported housing, including universal credit claimants, will continue to be met through housing benefit. Maintaining housing benefit for all supported housing reflects the particular needs of these vulnerable groups.

I welcome the Minister to his new role. However, is he aware of an issue with the Universal Credit Regulations 2013, which refer only to English county councils as relevant bodies? Supported accommodation provided by Scottish local authorities is not covered, even though those living in identical circumstances in accommodation in England will be covered and so will still be subject to housing benefit. Will he meet me to discuss the matter?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is a passionate campaigner, and I recognise that that is a specific constituency issue. There is no difference in how English lower-tier local authorities and Scottish local authorities are treated within the regulations. Amendments to the regulations were introduced in 2014 to extend the protection to other supported housing, which was not previously included and was most likely to be affected by the welfare reforms. However, I would be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss this complex issue further.

Contrary to what the Minister just said, I have had a small group of constituency cases in which the Department for Work and Pensions does not seem able to decide whether people in supported accommodation should continue on housing benefit or whether their housing costs should be paid through universal credit. Will he repeat his clarification to make the situation absolutely certain, because the DWP does not seem able to decide in its own cases?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I am happy to look at those individual cases. He can write to me, or I would be happy to meet him.

Mr Speaker, I could probably ask this question on the back of any question on the Order Paper. Broadband connectivity is very poor in parts of my constituency, which surely flies in the face of the Government’s best efforts to ensure that people who deserve benefits get them and that people who want to get back to work have that opportunity. What do the Government intend to do about the problem to help my constituents?

Too many young people who are sofa-surfing or, worse, sleeping rough are doing so because of problems due to universal credit delays and sanctions. When will the Government do an assessment of the impact of these delays and sanctions on vulnerable young people?

That is why, in recent Budgets, we have put an additional £1.7 billion into the universal credit system.