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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:30 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 10:30 pm, 23rd January 2012

Last week, I think, we had a regulation on this. Time does not fly for the noble Lord, Lord McKenzie, as he thought it was weeks ago. We have already announced that we are processing all JSA claimants in prison. It is hard to process everything. Clearly, housing cost is one element that is not there. I know the noble Lord is concerned about what we do with ESA claimants. The issue becomes real because as we move from universal credit, it is not just a question of not having JSA claimants but having universal credit claimants; we also have to look at how we will do that. We have to do that anyway. However, at the moment we have done JSA claimants and we have the issue of housing. We have support at the prison gate. When we discussed it in Committee, the noble Lord seemed almost shocked that we were doing that. We are moving very fast now. For the record, we will continue to work with the Prison Service, the Ministry of Justice and the other agencies to ensure that prisoners have all the necessary information about claiming benefits on release, and that benefit payments are made as quickly as possible on release. With these assurances, I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw this amendment.