HC Deb 10 June 2002 vol 386 cc878-9W
Annabelle Ewing

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) what representations he has received to review the operation of housing benefit rules, with specific reference to the clawback threshold; [60059]

(2) what representations he has received on the amendment of the housing benefit rules in respect of accommodation for homeless people. [60060]

Malcolm Wicks

When a homeless person in temporary accommodation provided by a local authority claims housing benefit, the local authority must pay the full amount of benefit in respect of the rent for which the homeless person is liable. However, the amount of subsidy paid to reimburse local authorities for benefit paid in these circumstances is subject to a threshold above which only a proportion of benefit is reimbursed, and a cap, above which nothing is reimbursed. These limits are intended to ensure that the tax-payer does not subsidise unreasonably expensive accommodation. However, there are no circumstances in which we will "claw back" subsidy.

From April 2002, we introduced changes to the subsidy limits to encourage local authorities to use better quality accommodation in housing homeless people, and to ensure that even more families have the chance of a more permanent home. From that date, the subsidy rate for privately-leased accommodation was increased, while the rate for board and lodging accommodation remained the same.

There have been no formal representations about these changes.