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[Mr James Gray in the Chair] — Housing Benefit

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 13th October 2010.

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Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Chair, Public Accounts Committee 9:30 am, 13th October 2010

I am very grateful, Mr Gray, to all the right hon. and hon. Members who have joined me today to take part in a hugely important debate on what I consider to be the Government's very ill-conceived plans to slash housing benefit for the poorest families in the poorest communities-plans that will inevitably force thousands of people to leave their homes, their families and their friends as they try to find an affordable roof over their heads and the heads of their loved ones. In my view, the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, Steve Webb, can feel nothing but shame at having to come to Westminster Hall to defend such ill-conceived proposals. With his background and knowledge, he should know better.

When we last debated this issue, my hon. Friend Meg Hillier eloquently outlined the devastating implications of the Government's plans. In addition, we have all been provided with evidence on the impact of the proposals by my hon. Friend Ms Buck, whom I congratulate on her well deserved place on the Opposition Front Bench, and by the research carried out by a range of organisations working in housing.

The Government's proposals on housing benefit have to be considered alongside the other proposals that were announced at the Conservative party conference last week: the capping of all benefits that a family can receive at £500 a week and the ending of the universal child benefit. All of that comes on top of the housing benefit cuts set out in June and the cuts to child tax credit, maternity allowance and the child trust fund.