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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:15 pm on 23rd January 2012.

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Photo of Lord Freud Lord Freud The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 9:15 pm, 23rd January 2012

My Lords, one can very easily see circumstances in which a local authority considers that to be a very sensible use of the discretionary housing payments. That is one reason why we have ramped up that amount. I am not saying that it will be every time, but that might be a solution. We are looking to redesign the process of finding temporary accommodation, which is the immediate problem that local authorities are faced with, so that we do not get caught in some Catch-22, which would obviously not be smart at all. That is where we are with that; we are very conscious of those issues and very comfortable that we have the legislative powers to develop effective solutions.

I pick up the important point from my noble friend Lady Thomas on the DLA and how the cap interacts with it. The DLA is there for those in receipt of DLA. That is how we have worded the illustrative regulations. A person whose DLA award is pending and who is serving what is now, and will remain, a three-month qualifying period, would not be covered by the exemption. That is the point in the question raised by my noble friend. It shows why this issue and other similar issues need to be dealt with in secondary legislation, so that we do not have the inflexibility that we would have if it was in primary legislation.

We are conscious of the concerns around the introduction of the cap. I can assure noble Lords that we are listening. We have said all along that we will introduce measures to ease the transition for families and provide assistance in hard cases. We are still considering our plans, and it is essential that we get them right. The clause has been drafted so that we have all the powers that we need to ensure through regulations that we provide the appropriate protections. I hope that that gives the noble Lord, Lord Best, a measure of reassurance.

Before I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment, I would like to make it clear that the Government do not consider Amendments 60A and 61 to be directly consequential on Amendment 60. Further Divisions would be required should noble Lords wish to push those other two amendments in the group to a vote. I apologise for spelling that out, but we had a small frisson the other week. I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.