Under-occupancy Penalty: Disabled People

Women and Equalities – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 15 January 2015.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons) 9:30, 15 January 2015

What assessment she has made of the effect of the under-occupancy penalty on disabled people.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

The spare room subsidy is about ensuring that the same rules apply in the social housing sector as in the private sector. Of course, the hon. Gentleman will know that the Government have made available significant amounts of discretionary housing payments so that local authorities can deal with cases in which they think the specific circumstances are appropriate.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

The hon. Gentleman is a good Minister, but he will know that that is a nonsense answer. According to the Government’s own interim evaluation report, disabled people in adapted homes hit by the bedroom tax are not being awarded discretionary housing payments, because their disability benefits are causing them to fail the test. The Minister needs to look at this a bit more carefully.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

The hon. Gentleman is a little churlish in his response to my answer. I have looked at the discretionary housing payment guidance in significant detail and it gives local authorities complete discretion. Local authorities are the ones considering specific cases and they are in possession of all the facts. I trust them to make good, sensible decisions.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Is there a list of local authorities that compares the number of disabled people who might require such discretionary help with the discretionary help they are receiving?

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

My hon. Friend raised a similar question at the previous Question Time and I put in the Library information on the amount of money the Government have made available to each local authority in the country compared with what they are spending. We do not have a list broken down by local authority of every single person affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy and their level of disability, so I cannot give my hon. Friend the exact information he requires, but I think I have done the best that I can.