Under-occupancy Penalty

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 28th January 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People) 10:35 am, 28th January 2016

We know there are people who need extra support. That is why we are providing local authorities with discretionary housing payment funding. Local authorities are best placed to assess people’s needs in their area and identify where extra support is needed.

We have increased the amount of discretionary housing payment available. On top of the £560 million since 2011, we are providing an extra £870 million over the next five years. The people involved in these cases are receiving discretionary housing payments. That is precisely why we have discretionary housing payments, and shows that these are working.

We welcome the fact that the High Court and the Court of Appeal both ruled that the public sector equality duty had been met in respect to women. Furthermore, we have won a Court of Appeal ruling where the court ruled in our favour on the policy of the spare room subsidy. In that judgment, the court found that the discretionary housing payments were an appropriate means of support for those who are vulnerable. So this is a complex area and in terms of these two latest cases, it is a very narrow ruling.

On these cases, the High Court found in our favour and we fundamentally disagree with yesterday’s Court of Appeal ruling on the ECHR. This is not a case of people losing money, for in these cases they are in receipt of discretionary housing payments. This is about whether it is possible to define such exemptions or whether direct housing payments through local authorities give the right flexibility to help a wide range of those in need. The Court of Appeal itself has already granted us permission to appeal, and we will be appealing to the Supreme Court.