HC Deb 19 December 1988 vol 144 cc12-3
10. Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many young people have been excluded from housing benefits as a result of the recent changes in the social security system.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Housing benefit continues to be available to all young people assessed as needing help with their rent and rates.

Mr. Wray

Does the Minister agree that there are 30,000 youngsters living in cardboard boxes and anywhere else they can find shelter because of the Government's draconian cuts in social security? Do the Government listen to people such as the royal family who are appalled and shocked—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I said earlier on that we do not introduce into the debate members of the royal family to support our arguments.

Mr. Wray

Are the Government not listening to many eminent people in our society who are shocked and appalled at the Government's draconian cuts that have left kids vulnerable and without dignity?

Mr. Lloyd

I do not believe the figure of 30,000 young people, none of whom are excluded from housing benefit, which is available to any person—and young person—whose income is below the qualifying amount and who does not have capital of £8,000. In addition, they are guaranteed a place on a YTS scheme. Rather than continuing to talk of those who have nowhere to live or no income, the hon. Gentleman should draw their attention to the fact that there is a ready scheme that provides income, and a social security system that enables housing benefit to be paid to them.

Mr. Rowe

I thank my hon. Friend for that reassuring reply. Does he agree that a number of voluntary organisations and others are deeply concerned about the short-term future of a number of hostels, especially those for young people leaving residential care? Will he assure us that they are mistaken in believing that changes in the social security system are responsible for that anxiety or ensure that none of the hostels are closed before the report of the targeting review appears?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that my hon. Friend may be referring to the proposed changes in hostel board and lodging. We are examining the replies that have been given and will introduce a fair system for hostels. We recognise the value of their work and intend to ensure that they continue to do that work.