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Housing Benefit

Volume 571: debated on Wednesday 17 April 1996

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in introducing the housing benefit regulations, they consulted the Department of the Environment regarding the increase in costs arising from the subsequent increase in youth homelessness; and,Whether any money has been transferred from the Department of Social Security to the Department of the Environment to cover the increase in costs as a result of the proposals to cut housing benefit to young people.

There is no evidence to support the contention that the October 1996 housing benefit changes for single people under 25 will result in increased homelessness. No transfer of funds has therefore been made to the Department of the Environment.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider exempting former victims of rape and sexual assault from the restriction on housing benefit for under 25s to the level appropriate to shared accommodation.

Although certain groups are exempt from the October 1996 housing benefit rules for single young people under 25, the thrust of the rules is to move away from a prescriptive approach. That is why we have given local authorities discretion to pay additional housing benefit to prevent exceptional hardship.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will consider exempting people with disabilities from the new restriction of housing benefit for under 25s to the level appropriate to shared accommodation.

The Government believe that many young people with disabilities, who are unable to live in shared accommodation, will be living in accommodation which is exempt from the changes. In other cases local authorities can consider making discretionary payments to avoid exceptional hardship.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether crisis loans from the Social Fund will be available to meet debts to landlords created by the payment of housing benefit in arrears.

Social Fund crisis loans are not available for housing costs, including rent and analogous charges for accommodation. However, Social Fund officers may consider a crisis loan to help with charges for board and lodging accommodation and residential charges for hostels, other than for deposits. Crisis loans may also be awarded to assist with rent in advance where the landlord is not a local authority.