Parliament news week ending 23 March 2012

Parliament news week ending 23 March 2012

Over-occupation rues  

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 29 February 2012, Official Report, column 393W, on housing benefit: pension credit, whether the transitional protection also applies to couples where one member is above pension credit qualifying age but the couple will not receive pension credit in April 2013. [98861]

Steve Webb:In April 2013, when the under occupation measure comes in, the size criteria will not apply where one of a couple is over state pension credit age, whether or not they are actually in receipt of pension credit.

One bedroom houses – increase in rents

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the potential risk of private landlords of one-bedroom houses using the provisions of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 to increase rental prices for such properties. [98848]

Steve Webb:It is absolutely essential that the Government take urgent steps to manage housing benefit expenditure, which left unreformed would have cost £26 billion per year by 2014-15. The housing benefit reforms announced in the emergency Budget and spending review will, by 2014-15, result in annual savings of more than £2 billion. Some of these measures, aimed at making longer term changes, have been taken forward in the Welfare Reform Act 2012.

The measures are intended to exert downward pressure on private sector rents. To support this drive, the Government are temporarily widening local authority discretion to pay housing benefit direct to the landlord if it would help the claimant secure or retain a tenancy at a reduced rent.

LHA – transitional protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many households who were in receipt of local housing allowance prior to April 2011 lost transitional protection before the full nine months transitional protection had expired due to a change of circumstances; and in how many cases the change of circumstances was triggered by (a) moving house and (b) a fall in their household size. [100764]

Steve Webb:This information is not available at this time; The Department has commissioned a consortium of academics and research organisations led by Ian Cole, professor of housing studies at Sheffield Hallam University to undertake an independent review of the impact of the housing benefit measures introduced last year. The work will include the effects of the measures on claimants.