Welfare Reform Bill — Report (5th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:45 pm on 23rd January 2012.

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Photo of Lord Stoneham of Droxford Lord Stoneham of Droxford Liberal Democrat 8:45 pm, 23rd January 2012

My Lords, I have a lot of sympathy for the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Best. It is largely about the transitional arrangements, on which we are still working towards having more information. It would be helpful if the Government could spell out exactly how they are going to deal with the problem of the flow after April 2013-because everyone will have a year's transition. If they become unemployed after April 2013, they will in certain circumstances be hit by the cap. I think that there is some sympathy in the House for people who have not had a history of benefit dependency. We are not trying to achieve behavioural change with them. How are we going to help them back into work when they are suddenly faced with high housing costs and a cap being imposed on them?

In our debate on children, insufficient attention was given to the fact that one of the biggest problems is the differential in housing costs between certain areas. Fortunately, those who have the highest housing costs will normally be in areas where they are likely to get a job quickly, rather than in areas where housing costs are lower. Even so, it takes much longer to get a job these days, particularly in this market, than it has in the past. People need some help with that transition.

We need more information from the Government on the transitional arrangements, which we on our Benches are concerned remain imprecise. This particular issue highlights that.