Work and Pensions

Housing Benefit (Supported Housing)

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): My noble Friend, the Under-Secretary of State, responsible for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud of Eastry, has made the following statement:

Later today, the Government will publish a consultation paper on proposals to review the way in which housing benefit is calculated for those who live in supported housing. Views will be invited to inform the detailed development of our proposals as we look toward amending legislation.

Many of those who live in supported housing managed or owned by not for profit social or voluntary sector providers have their housing benefit based on more generous rules. However, these rules have been in place since the mid-90s and no longer fit the way that personal

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care and support are now commonly delivered. These rules have also become complex both to administer and understand.

We want housing benefit to support independence in the community while being fair, affordable and sustainable. Our challenge is to reform housing benefit in such a way that it can more effectively help those people with specialist housing needs who commonly live in specialist supported housing or in adapted housing. Our proposals recognise that the provision of supported housing broadly falls into two groups.

The more easily recognisable types of supported housing such as hostels, refuges, foyers and purpose-built sheltered housing, where residents commonly need less intensive personal care and support to help them remain in the community. For this group we are proposing to pay the local housing allowance but with fixed additions which will continue to recognise the higher costs of providing this type of housing.

The type of supported housing often specifically built, acquired and/or adapted for the individual tenant(s) who have more specific housing needs that can not be met by mainstream or existing supported housing. The detail of the exact funding arrangements are yet to be determined but we propose that decisions on the level of any extra help that an individual may need toward their rent over and above the standard local housing allowance would be made locally.

It is important to be clear that these reforms are not looking to cut expenditure in this sector but to better direct it. In the face of rising expenditure in this area, it is important to find the right balance between protecting reasonable rents and providing effective expenditure control for the taxpayer. Consequently any changes will need to be cost neutral overall.

A copy of the consultation paper will be available on the Department for Work and Pensions website at:

Copies will also be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

Workplace Pension Reform (Automatic Enrolment)

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): I am pleased to be able to publish later today the Government’s consultation document “Workplace Pension Reform—Completing the Legislative Framework for Automatic Enrolment”, and to announce that today marks the beginning of a period of formal consultation on draft regulations relating to automatic enrolment into workplace pension schemes. The consultation period will run for 12 weeks, ending on 11 October.

This consultation addresses the remaining legislative changes needed to put in place the Government’s workplace pensions reforms, which are due to begin in 2012. The “Making Automatic Enrolment Work” review, which took place last year, recommended changes to the proposed requirements in order to make it easier for employers and employees to understand and operate the new automatic enrolment requirement. These changes, together with some minor technical amendments, are set out in the draft regulations published alongside the consultation document.

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I would like to thank all those people and organisations who have offered their views and advice in response to our recent informal consultation, and hope that they will continue to do so now that consultation has moved on to a formal footing.

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The consultation document will be available later today on the Department’s website at: