Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of Welfare Reform and Work Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:15 pm on 27th January 2016.

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Photo of Lord Best Lord Best Chair, Communications and Digital Committee, Chair, Communications and Digital Committee 10:15 pm, 27th January 2016

My Lords, this has been an excellent debate. Many thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, my noble friends Lord Listowel and Lord Kerslake—I was pleased to hear him say that he welcomed the announcement by the Minister—and the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis, who may have been satisfied to some extent on the process. We should have a chance to debate these things in the future. I thank the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham, who told us about the work of Framework, a typical housing association, which is feeling very nervous and which, I hope we are pretty well fully reassured, will not go out of business as a result of these measures—that will just not happen. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Manzoor, my noble friend Lord Ramsbotham, for championing the cause of the almshouses, the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham, for joining in very helpfully; and the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick. She continues to feel fearful but I hope that she gained the distinct impression that it would be a bad idea to hold back on the basis of thinking, “The Government will probably let us down; the rents won’t meet what is required”.

For some years I chaired one of the housing associations—Hanover, which runs the most extra care housing schemes in the country. I thought to myself, “Knowing what I know, would I say to my board that it is too risky to go ahead with an extra care scheme in these circumstances, because by 2018 we may find that there is no money on the table and we will go out of business?”. I would say from the chair, “Let’s go for it. I don’t believe we’re going to be put out of business”, but I fully accept that some of my fellow board members might take a more cautious view. That is the anxiety that remains until the Minister is able to come up with something that has a watertight guarantee. However, his words tonight were as reassuring as we could expect them to be.

I echo the Minister’s tribute to the many organisations that have beaten a path to his door. I am sure that they were much more influential than myself or anyone else in this House because they bring the real experience of the front line through to the ministerial office. I am delighted that he is deeply committed to engaging those same organisations in the process that now follows to find a permanent solution.

However, best of all, I am very pleased that the Minister has been able to announce that, while the review takes place and Ipsos MORI comes up with its research, with the providers being part of the process of finding a permanent solution, rents can be increased by CPI plus 1% in these schemes. That will keep the wolf from the door. I have pleasure in begging leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 50 withdrawn.

Amendments 51 and 52 not moved.

Amendment 53 not moved.

Clause 24: Enforcement

Amendment 54

Moved by Baroness Evans of Bowes Park

54: Clause 24, page 23, line 42, at end insert—

“(b) regulations under section 26 of that Act, or

(c) Part 1 of Schedule 2 to that Act.””