Housing Benefit

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Security – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th November 1997.

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Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester 12:00 am, 17th November 1997

What assessment she has made of the impact of the single room rent rules for housing benefit for recipients aged under 25 years. [14633]

Photo of Mr Keith Bradley Mr Keith Bradley Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Social Security, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

We are currently gathering information from a wide variety of sources to assess the national impact of these changes which we inherited from the previous Government. We will keep them under review. We revoked the regulations laid by the previous Government, which would have extended the rules to people over 25 years of age.

Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester

You have had six months now to do the review. How much longer is it going to go on? Will you accept from me that—

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. The hon. Gentleman will speak through the Chair. It is not "you". He has been here six months now.

Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester

Does the Minister agree that the Government have had six months to do the review?

How much longer will it go on? Does he accept that, every day, the homelessness problem for young people is getting worse? How does that fit in with the spirit and thrust of the welfare-to-work new deal proposals?

Photo of Mr Keith Bradley Mr Keith Bradley Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Social Security, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

The Department has commissioned research on this matter and we are taking information from a sample of local authorities throughout the country. We are also receiving direct representations from a number of organisations and a number of reports have been commissioned on that aspect. We hope to be in a position to report on those matters early next year.

Photo of Julian Brazier Julian Brazier Conservative, Canterbury

Why does the Minister think that the position of 26 and 27-year-olds is so different from that of those just under the age of 25? Specifically, does he believe that it is right that anyone should be supported on benefit in a better level of accommodation than their working counterparts on modest wages can afford, living on their own?

Photo of Mr Keith Bradley Mr Keith Bradley Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Social Security, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

There is clearly a cost differential between the under-25 and over-25 age groups. We are determined not to extend the mean-minded measure put in place by the previous Government for people aged between 25 and 60. We are reviewing the position for those who are under 25 and will report on our findings early next year.