Page last updated at 21:18 GMT, Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012

On 6 November 2012 peers held a debate on the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012.

The order stems from Section 69 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, which introduces "under occupancy" savings to housing benefit for working-age people.

From April 2013, claimants in the social housing sector will have housing benefit calculated on the basis of how many bedrooms their household requires, not on the size of the property they occupy.

The so-called "bedroom tax" will mean some tenants will lose some of their housing benefit if they have spare rooms.

The government says the proposals will save money and help deal with a housing shortage by encouraging people to move out of homes that are too big for them.

Opposition spokesman Lord McKenzie of Luton opposed the regulations that will bring in the change, arguing that the policy failed to protect the most vulnerable housing benefit claimants.

"It is a callous piece of public policy which will put people into debt, drive increased homelessness and fracture communities, and we should have none of it."

However, Welfare Minister Lord Freud said there was a "compelling" argument for "reining in" housing benefit spending.

"We do believe it will result in more efficient use of social housing stock over time, which in turn should help us to tackle some of the overcrowding," he said.

It would be "quite wrong" to "backtrack" on the policy, Lord Freud continued, because the government would be forced to find savings elsewhere.

The regulations were later approved by peers without a vote.

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