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Housing Benefit

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 31st October 2006.

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Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Conservative, Beverley and Holderness

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

(1) if he will make a statement on the recent decision by the Social Security Commissioner to reduce the level of housing benefit available to tenants of homes where care and support is provided to people with learning and physical disabilities;

(2) what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities following the recent decision by the Social Security Commissioner to reduce the level of housing benefit available to tenants of homes where care and support is provided to people with learning and physical disabilities; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what steps his Department is taking to ensure that tenants in homes where care and support is provided to people with learning and physical disabilities do not lose their placements following the recent decision by the Social Security Commissioner to reduce the level of housing benefit available to tenants; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of James Plaskitt James Plaskitt Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

The Social Security Commissioner decided that the rent restriction scheme introduced in 1996 should be used in certain cases as the accommodation did not fall into the type of specialist supported accommodation prescribed in legislation for which the pre-1996 rent restriction scheme has been preserved. This decision has led to some authorities reviewing their decisions on similar awards resulting in a reduction in benefit in some cases.

The Commissioner also confirmed the interpretation of the appropriate legislation was accurately reflected in current DWP guidance.

The Commissioner's decision has not affected the responsibilities of social services, where they have them, to provide care and support for certain individuals. Where this duty existed previously, it will continue to exist, and social services will have to ensure that the care and support is provided. The only cases that the Commissioner's decision will affect are those where the old scheme housing benefit rules are currently being incorrectly used.

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