Analysis of the effects of benefit cuts could lead to bill amendments
Lobbyists win welfare review
Critics who claim the government’s controversial housing benefit reforms will lead to an increase in homelessness are to use an independent review to force ministers to re-think cuts.
Welfare reform minister Lord Freud this week bowed to pressure from peers to announce the review, which will report to parliament in three stages, concluding in the spring of 2013. Housing benefit cuts are due to take effect from April.
Ministers are also considering dropping or changing an unpopular benefit cut for the long-term unemployed, Inside Housing has learned.
Lord Best, an independent peer who tabled the motion calling for the review, said: ‘We’ve got three shots to do this and the good thing about it is that it [cuts to housing benefit] has been introduced by secondary legislation…so the government can change it relatively easily.’
Ministers are also holding talks on whether to drop or amend plans to cut housing benefit by 10 per cent for those claiming jobseeker’s allowance for more than a year from 2013.
Conservative peer Lord Freud has privately told campaigning groups they are welcome to lobby on this particular reform. Several Liberal Democrat ministers and backbenchers expect the government either to drop it or accept an amendment which erases it from the bill.
Jenny Willott, co-chair of the Lib Dem parliamentary committee on work and pensions, has held talks with pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and pensions minister Steve Webb about dropping the cut. ‘They are quite receptive as so many people have concerns about this,’ she said.
The welfare reform bill is due to be published by Monday.
Inside Housing’s ongoing What’s the Benefit? campaign aims to find a fairer way to reform housing benefit.