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Benefits Recipients: Supported and Exempted Housing

Volume 688: debated on Monday 25 January 2021

What recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Government’s definition of care, support and supervision for benefits recipients in (a) supported and (b) exempted housing. (911270)

Local authorities apply the “more than minimal” test as part of the process for determining housing benefit for supported accommodation. No assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the “more than minimal” test for care, support and supervision in housing benefit; however, we are reviewing the guidance for local authorities to help improve consistency in decision making.

The Minister and I have talked about this, so he will know that I have real concerns about the exploitation of vulnerable people in the supported housing sector by landlords who know that they can charge much higher rents by providing only “more than minimal” support. Will the Minister look at the regulations to see whether they can be tightened up? I know that pilots are going on and consideration is being given to whether we can regulate supported housing, and that might be one way to do it.

The hon. Lady is right to point out that work is under way in this policy area. The DWP Minister in the Lords remains responsible for the policy; she is offering to all MPs and peers a session on 24 February at which they can raise any areas of concern, so I will make sure the Lady is invited to that. We recognise that there are problem areas and I share a number of the hon. Lady’s concerns, but it is important to stress that the majority of supported housing is provided by well-run, registered social landlords with a strong social mission.