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Housing: Discretionary Housing Payment — Question (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the department has asked local authorities to provide details regarding their use of discretionary housing payments twice yearly. Details of how local authorities are using discretionary housing payments in the first half of the year were published on 20 December. Despite some people’s predictions, the vast majority of local authorities were managing within their budgets. In...

Housing: Discretionary Housing Payment — Question (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the noble Lord used those figures as if they were his; I am sure that he would want to attribute them to another group called False Economy. They show that 85% of councils surveyed had spent less than 90% of their money with one month to go. However, in that particular report, which found that 11 councils had overspent, there were a lot of mistakes. The figures for four of...

Housing: Discretionary Housing Payment — Question (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: The savings that we are looking at—which are running on the Budget scoring at 490 million—are both observable and unobservable; in other words, from people moving or from people taking up jobs and coming off benefits. There are various figures around. The BBC last week talked of 6% of people moving in 11 months; the JRF report, which the noble Lord has just cited, talked...

Housing: Discretionary Housing Payment — Question (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, I am not sure of the exact number of evictions, but I do not think that there are very many at all, if any. Clearly it is a matter of great concern. I can let the noble Baroness know that the data from the Homes and Communities Agency, which are based on the 266 largest housing associations with more than 1,000 homes, show that the average arrears in the final quarter of last...

Housing: Discretionary Housing Payment — Question (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, my noble friend draws attention to the point that we have introduced a cap on the amount of housing benefit to stop the very large amounts that were paid on local housing allowance.

Housing: Discretionary Housing Payment — Question (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: The noble Baroness need not persuade me about the savings—she needs to persuade the OBR, which has scored down in the Budget 490 million. The noble Baroness talked about the fact that a Labour Government would abolish the spare room subsidy. We will produce an interim report later this year, as I said, and we will bring forward next year the full report on what has been happening...

Written Answers — House of Lords: Atos Healthcare (9 April 2014)

Lord Freud: Following detailed negotiations with Atos Healthcare, the Government have reached a settlement for Atos to exit the contract to deliver Work Capability Assessments before it is due to end in August 2015. Atos did not receive any compensation from the taxpayer for this early termination but made a substantial financial settlement to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Pensions Bill — Commons Reason (8 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, again, I record my thanks to those who have contributed to the discussions on this issue, in particular, of course, the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, who has shone a spotlight on this group of people. I will pick up a few of the points that have been made today. The first was raised by my noble friend Lord German and the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, and concerned zero hours. There...

Pensions Bill — Commons Reason (8 April 2014)

Lord Freud: I was saying that we now have a base on which to look at this problem, see what it is and, on that basis, decide how to deal with it.

Pensions Bill — Commons Reason (8 April 2014)

Lord Freud: I would be pretty surprised if, when one had reached a decision on how to deal with something, one did not get on with trying to deal with it. On the timetable, we have the power to introduce credits anyway—that is a point that I have already made—but it would take time, working with HMRC, to get it right. We need to work through the impacts to ensure that there are not any...

Pensions Bill — Commons Reason (8 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, this amendment is the one outstanding issue of a Pensions Bill that will radically reform the state pension system, providing a clear, simple platform on which to save for retirement. This Government want people to build up a full entitlement to this new pension, to give them this platform and then to take them above the level of the basic means test. This is why we have a...

Written Answers — House of Lords: Housing Benefit (Habitual Residence) Amendment Regulations 2014 (8 April 2014)

Lord Freud: The Department for Work and Pensions has noted the report of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. The Prime Minister covered a strategy to manage several aspects of migration at a national and international level. This inevitably engaged the work of a large number of Government Departments simultaneously. Follow up details have been announced by the relevant Secretaries of State. In...

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: The Government provide support to young people through Jobcentre Plus as well as through the youth contract and the Work Programme. Our approach continues to work. The youth claimant count has fallen for the 21st consecutive month.

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: There is a great deal of confusion about long-term youth unemployment. The actual figures, rather than the fantasy figures made up on the opposite Benches, show that before the coalition came to power long-term youth unemployment had doubled. Since then, that increase has slowed and the figure has now started to fall—it was down 38,000 this quarter and 59,000 this past year—and...

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: The key element of universal credit, clearly, is that it is an incentive for everyone to go to work and to work more. That is particularly attractive to younger people who are excluded from tax credits. Around universal credit, we are putting in place a series of local partnerships so that we can provide holistic help for people who have barriers to going into work. That is the issue. One...

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the figures show that the long-term unemployment figure is still 6% higher than it was in 2010, on top of the doubling that was seen under the previous Government. I am absolutely behind training because it is the way to help people, particularly youngsters, get into the labour market. The trouble is that when things such as training allowances are used as a way of distorting the...

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: We are looking to improve careers advice in schools and Ofsted has confirmed that it will give this guidance a higher priority. Reducing unemployment is clearly a central objective for this Government, and I thought it was interesting that a couple of weeks ago the Financial Times reported that we have now overtaken the United States in our participation rate, a rate that normally falls...

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the reason I am answering this Question is that I represent the Department for Work and Pensions, so it is fairly self-evident that I should be responsible for it.

Youth Unemployment — Question (7 April 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the party opposite has a policy of guaranteeing jobs that cost more than its own costings. It thinks that the policy will cost 1.9 billion in the first year and 0.9 billion in subsequent years. The Treasury has looked at the Opposition costings and puts them at 2.6 billion a year. That money is anyway to be taken from a tax on bonuses that has already been spent....

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