Date laid: 7 July 2017
Parliamentary procedure: negative
1.These Regulations apply to Northern Ireland the same restrictions on people under 22 years’ old claiming Housing Benefit that were applied in Great Britain by SI 2017/252. Our 28th Report of last Session considered a number of issues about that legislation, in particular the concerns raised by Shelter about the way landlords would react and about a “Catch 22” situation, where claimants could not get housing until their benefit claim was approved but could not obtain benefit until they had housing. Those same concerns will apply to these Northern Ireland Regulations, so we also draw them to the special attention of the House on the ground of policy interest.
2.At the time of publishing our 28th Report, we wrote to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) expressing our disappointment that the guidance, which would dictate whether someone in this age group would be eligible for the listed exceptions, was not laid alongside the Regulations. The then Minister gave a helpful response and undertook to make other Departmental colleagues aware of the Committee’s view. Regrettably DWP has proved to have a short memory and we are told only that “the guidance will be amended for staff and Decision Makers in advance of the instrument becoming operational” (EM para 9.1). Once again this neglects the need of the claimant and advisory groups, like Shelter or Citizens Advice, to understand how the benefit will operate. Although this case should be less acute, as we assume they will be able to look at the material published for England and Wales, we are aware that the housing market in Northern Ireland operates differently. The EM similarly neglects to mention what publicity will be directed at landlords in Northern Ireland to ensure they properly understand the new arrangements: it does not appear to us that the “test and learn” approach mentioned in DWP’s letter to us is yet being applied to its Parliamentary paperwork.
1 , Session 2016–17 (HL Paper 131).
2 , Session 2016–17 (HL Paper 145).
3 It will be published on