Local authorities apply the minimal test for determining housing benefit for supported housing accommodation. No assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the more than minimal test for housing benefit. However, we are reviewing the guidance to help improve consistency in decision making.
The annual housing benefit bill in Birmingham for supported exempt accommodation is now a massive £200 million. Too many housing providers are exploiting the extremely weak regulations that govern the payment of enhanced housing benefit; all they have to do is show that the support they provide is more than minimal, and this is causing misery for vulnerable tenants and the communities they live in. So will the Minister meet me to discuss the situation in Birmingham, and will he bring forward urgent proposals to change the situation and get a grip of this growing national scandal?
Although we recognise there are problem areas, it is worth noting that the majority of supported housing is provided by well-run registered social landlords with a strong social mission. These are regulated by the Regulator of Social Housing, for registered charities, or by the Charity Commission. But I do recognise that there is a problem, and I would be happy to meet the hon. Lady.