Friday, 29 January 2016

Tories still vindictive on housing benefit rooms restriction

The Housing Acts could have been amended on lines suggested here some time back in order to avoid the embarrassment the Conservatives suffered in the appeal court. They could even have introduced a Bill in this session which would have enabled them to save face by distancing them from the preceding coalition government. The conclusion has to be drawn that they continue to act out of class-based prejudice.

The line which they took in yesterday's urgent question session was that (apart from disagreeing with some of the best legal minds in the country) each case of hardship was unique, was best investigated by local government and could be paid for out of the discretionary housing payments (DHP) fund.

I would argue that, contrary to the government's assertion, the Rutherfords' situation falls squarely into the general case for rooms which have to be set aside for carers which has been consistently made since the cuts to housing benefit were introduced. This exemption could with little difficulty be written into legislation.

The distribution of DHP, as opposition speakers pointed out yesterday, is in the gift of the Westminster government and may be cut at any time. If DWP ministers were serious about the efficacy of DHP in this area, they would write its level into legislation also.

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