Benefit change plans not open to consultation
The government will not hold an open consultation on its proposals to introduce housing benefits sanctions against antisocial behaviour, it has revealed.
In response to a written Parliamentary question, housing benefit minister James Plaskitt said that the Department for Work and Pensions was not planning to hold a formal written consultation on the proposed measures.
Plans to withdraw housing benefit from households that refused to accept help to change their behaviour after being evicted because of anti-social behaviour were resurrected in the government's respect action plan (Inside Housing, 13 January).
The proposal would be piloted in a small number of areas before being rolled out nationally, Plaskitt said.
Jim Bennett, acting head of social policy at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said he could not understand the rationale behind not holding a consultation.
'There were a lot of concerns with the previous set of proposals [published in January 2004] as people felt they would exacerbate the problems rather than improve them,' he said.
'If the government thinks it has come up with a set of proposals that will overcome those issues then why not test them?'
One Westminster source said: 'If these are genuinely different proposals to the ones that were rejected two years ago then the Department for Work and Pensions should have a formal consultation on it.
'Ministers' refusal to do so might be seen as a sign that they are hoping it can be tagged on the back of the forthcoming Welfare Reform Bill.'