§ Helen Jackson
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received about the introduction from April 2001 of changes to the backdating rules and to decision making and appeals for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Angela Eagle
We are developing a programme of work to resolve difficulties in the administration of Housing Benefit, and our response to consultation on the Housing Green Paper will be published shortly.
During separate consultation on draft regulations covering the backdating rules and benefit decision making and appeals, we received representations from the local authority associations and a report from the Social Security Advisory Committee.
We have considered very carefully the views of the Social Security Advisory Committee, the local authority associations and others on the proposal to align the backdating rules for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit with the other income-related benefits, and we have concluded that we should not proceed with it. The rules for the backdating of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit will therefore remain as now.
We have also considered representations made by the local authority associations about the ability of local authorities to implement from April 2001 changes to decision making and appeals in Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit.
This is an important new initiative and it is vital that the ability of local authorities to implement it should be reflected in the time available. We have therefore decided that the changes to decision making and appeals for Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit should be deferred by three months, to July 2001. This includes discretionary housing payments, which will come in at the same time as the appeals changes.
These measures are consistent with the programme of work being developed to resolve difficulties in the administration of Housing Benefit.