HC Deb 05 March 1997 vol 291 cc641-2W
Mr. Jim Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what recent representations he has received from MIND proposing changes to the housing benefit regulations; and what the proposed changes were. [18371]

Mr. Roger Evans

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has received one representation from the Coventry branch of MIND about the proposed changes to housing benefit which will restrict the amount of rent which will be used to calculate housing benefit for most single people under age 60 living in the deregulated private rented sector. This representation expressed concern that people with chronic enduring mental illness may be detrimentally affected by the proposed changes.

MIND has also made representations to the Social Security Advisory Committee on the proposed changes. The Government have just received the committee's report and will study it carefully before taking final decisions.

Mr. Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what analysis the Government have undertaken of the effect of(a) recent and (b) planned changes to housing benefit on people with mental health problems living within the community. [18426]

Mr. Evans

The Government are collecting data to monitor the impact of the housing benefit changes which were introduced last October. The monitoring exercise will be extended to cover future changes. The results will be analysed and will be placed in the Library. In addition, the Government are putting a series of research projects in place to evaluate the long-term effects of the changes and the use of discretionary funds to prevent exceptional hardship. The information collected will not focus specifically upon people with mental health problems. The results are expected next year.

The Government have also set up an inter-departmental review to look at the funding of supported accommodation, and as part of this exercise research is being undertaken to quantify the contribution made by housing benefit to the provision of supported accommodation for all client groups.