Is my hon. Friend aware that many of my constituents are particularly unhappy about the working of the Act and the rule and that the local authority associations are pressing for a change in the rule? If my hon. Friend cannot actually change the law at this stage, will he ensure that all local authorities inform all who are likely to be entitled to this grant that they must apply within six months?
It is difficult to establish the validity of a claim if it is made long after the circumstances of the displacement. I know that my hon. Friend put to the Department a case in which sanction was not given. However, we have already sanctioned 636 payments out of 908 applications.
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is worth while considering whether in some cases family hardship might not be a better basis for considering claims than this rather arbitrary six months' rule which is imposed under former legislation?
Family hardship is taken into account, but the main factor is the reason why a person did not apply within the six months. The figures show that we as a Department interpret this rule most generously.