HC Deb 11 April 1989 vol 150 cc497-8W
Mr. Pawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when sections 2, 3, 7, 8(ii) and 11 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 are likely to be implemented.

Mr. Scott

We plan to implement section 11 later this year. We have accepted the local authority associations' view that the next priority should be section 7, and detailed work on this is well under way. It will be followed by work on the remaining sections of the Act.

Mr. Alfred Morris

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what account will be taken of the need of some people with disabilities for more space or extra rooms in deciding notional market rents for the purpose of housing benefit claims; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

The Government do not believe that the Exchequer should in general subsidise spare accommodation through the housing benefit scheme but we accept that some housing benefit claimants, such as the disabled, may need a spare room.

Under the arrangements from 1 April 1989 for assessment of reasonable market rents, rent officers will indicate whether or not housing benefit claimants are living in accommodation with an excessive number of rooms and, if so, will assess a notional rent for accommodation of an appropriate size. They will take account of the number of people in the household, including any carer living with a disabled person.

The decision whether to restrict the rent eligible for housing benefit is one for the local authority but, after 13 weeks, it will generally receive subsidy on benefit only up to the level of the rent officer's assessment. However, in the case of a disabled person, the local authority may restrict the eligible rent only if it is satisfied that suitable cheaper alternative accommodation is available and it is reasonable to expect the claimant to move. If the authority cannot restrict the rent, it will receive full, 97 per cent., subsidy up to the level of the rent officer's assessment and 50 per cent. sbsidy on benefit paid above that level. Benefit expenditure not met by direct subsidy is reflected in the rates support grant arrangements.