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Housing Benefit

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 12th December 2011.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many social tenants he estimates will lose some housing benefit because they are under-occupying their home; and how many and what proportion of these he expects to be (a) pensioners and (b) disabled people.

Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

From April 2013 we intend to restrict housing benefit for working-age claimants living in the social rented sector where the claimant and the claimant's household under-occupy their accommodation.

We estimate that approximately 670,000 housing benefit claimants are likely to be affected by the introduction of size criteria in the social rented sector, and experience reductions in housing benefit as a result.

A breakdown of the categories of working age households affected is included in the equality impact assessment of the social sector size criteria, published to accompany the Welfare Reform Bill.

The equality impact assessment can be found at:



1. For housing benefit, the threshold between working-age and pension-age is determined by reference to the qualifying age for state pension credit. This is linked to planned changes in the state pension age for women.

2. Exceptionally, a pensioner may choose to claim a working-age benefit, such as income-based jobseeker's allowance, rather than claiming pension credit. In these situations the claimant would be assessed in line with the working-age rules for housing benefit.

3. Alternative definitions of disability would produce differing estimates of the number of disabled households affected by the social sector size criteria.

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