Briefing: Welfare Reform Bill - Commons Report Stage and Third Reading

By: Anne Baxendale  Published: June 2011


Shelter supports the principles of the new Universal Credit, the major piece of reform contained in the Welfare Reform Bill. However, the Bill will also introduce a second wave of cuts to housing benefit, undermining the housing safety net for people who lose their jobs and need temporary financial help to keep their homes, as well as affecting those who are in work but on very low incomes, or who are unable to work due to old age or disability.

Summary

The Bill contains very little detail but instead enables the Secretary of State to make fundamental changes to the benefits system via secondary legislation, where the changes will be subject to little parliamentary scrutiny. We welcome the Government‟s decision to table amendments making the housing clauses of the Bill subject to the affirmative resolution procedure, but we are disappointed to note that this only applies to the first set of regulations tabled and not to subsequent ones. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also failed to produce detailed proposals for key elements of the Bill, including how housing costs will be recognised under Universal Credit, or under Pension Credit when claimants are no longer of working age.

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