Welfare Reform and Work Bill

Report Stage House of Lords, 25 January 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA supports the Government's ambition to increase housing supply, and has called for additional flexibilities that will enable councils to play a lead role in building new homes. The social rent reduction will hamper the capacity of councils to build new homes and replace homes sold through Right to Buy.
  • We are supporting amendment 53 tabled by Lord Kerslake and Baroness Meacher. This calls for the Government to hold an independent review into the impact of its decision on rent setting, before it comes into effect in April 2020. The review would consider the impact on local council flexibility to increase social rents above the amount set by formula rent.
  • We also support amendments 61 and 63 to Schedule 2 tabled by Lord Kerslake and Baroness Meacher. This aims to ensure local authorities retain flexible powers to calculate social rents for new properties in line with rent standard guidance. Councils would retain discretion to adjust these rents by up to five per cent of formula rents and up to ten per cent of formula rents for supported housing.
  • The LGA and the National Housing Federation support amendments 50 and 51 to Clause 22 tabled by Lord Best, Lord Kerslake, Lord Shipley and Lord McKenzie of Luton. This seeks to protect investment in priority and specialist housing by except for properties from the social rent reduction.
  • The Government's proposed rent reduction in social housing rents would cost councils around £2.2 billion by 2019/20. This represents 60 per cent of local government's total housing maintenance budget each year, or equivalent to building almost 19,000 new homes over the four years. Giving local government the powers it needs to build new houses would have more impact on housing affordability than freezing the Local Housing Allowance or reducing the social housing rents. For this reason, we are opposing the forced sale of council homes to fund the extension of Right to Buy and we are seeking a range of local flexibilities in the delivery of starter homes

Download the full LGA briefing:

Welfare Reform and Work Bill, Report Stage House of Lords, 25 January 2016 (pdf)


Committee Stage, House of Lords, Tuesday 12 January 2016

Key messages

  • The LGA is calling on the Government to enable councils to take a leading role in housebuilding by lifting housing borrowing limits to allow councils to invest in new housing, giving councils the freedom to set Right to Buy discounts and to retain 100 per cent of all council home sale receipts locally.

  • Proposals in clauses 19 to 22 to reduce rents paid by tenants in social housing in England by one per cent a year will cost councils around £2.6 billion by 2019/20.

  • This represents 60 per cent of local government's total housing maintenance budget each year, or equivalent to building almost 19,000 new homes over the four years. Giving local government the powers it needs to build new houses would have more impact on housing affordability than freezing the Local Housing Allowance or reducing the social housing rents.

  • The LGA supports amendments 104C, 104D, 104E, 108A and 110A and 110B tabled by Lord Kerslake, which aims to ensure flexibilities for registered providers of social housing to calculate rents on new properties in line with rent standard guidance.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Welfare Reform and Work Bill, Committee Stage, House of Lords, Tuesday 12 January 2016 (pdf)


Committee Stage, House of Lords, Monday 14 December 2015

Key messages

  • The LGA is calling on the Government to enable councils to take a leading role in housebuilding by lifting housing borrowing limits to allow councils to invest in new housing, giving councils the freedom to set Right to Buy discounts and to retain 100 per cent of all council home sale receipts locally.

  • We support amendment 90A, tabled by Lord Kerslake, and amendment 73, by Lord Best, which seek to exempt people living in temporary accommodation from the benefit cap. 

Download the full LGA briefing:

Welfare Reform and Work Bill, Committee Stage, House of Lords, Monday 14 December (pdf)


Second Reading, House of Lords, Tuesday 14 November 2015

Key messages

  • Local government is keen to work with central government to join up services locally to tackle the root causes of unemployment, low pay and rising housing costs. However, some of the provisions of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill risk simply moving costs to another area of public spending
  • Reports: The Troubled Families programme is a proven example of the success of integrating services around an individual or family, and should be replicated. Councils and central government already work together to share data and publish comprehensive results for the programme. The LGA would encourage the Government to make use of existing Family Progress data.
  • Life chances: Councils are best-placed to understand the range of needs faced by disadvantaged children. However, currently they have limited scope to provide integrated support or influence the quality of early years and education provision. 
  • Welfare benefits: Changes to benefits set out in the Bill do little to address the root causes and may instead just move the costs onto local government services. Devolving employment and skills support will enable local government to integrate services for individuals with complex needs.
  • Social housing rents: Reducing rents paid by tenants in social housing by 1 per cent a year will cost councils around £2.6 billion by 2019/20. This is the equivalent to building almost 19,000 new homes over the four years. Council tenants already pay the lowest rents across all housing providers. Giving local government the powers it needs to build new houses would have more impact on housing affordability than freezing the Local Housing Allowance or reducing the social housing rents.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Welfare Reform and Work Bill, Second Reading, House of Lords, Tuesday 17 November (pdf)


Report Stage and Third Reading, House of Commons, Tuesday 27 October 2015

Key messages

Troubled Families

  • The Troubled Families programme is a proven example of the success of integrating services around an individual or family, and should be replicated. Councils and central government already work together to share data and publish comprehensive results for the programme and we would encourage the Government to make use of the Family Progress data in their reporting.<

Welfare reform

  • Local government is keen to work with central government to join up services locally to tackle the root causes of unemployment, low pay and rising housing costs. However, some of the provisions of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill risk simply moving costs to another area of public spending.
  • Changes to benefits set out in the Bill do little to address the root causes and may instead just move the costs onto local government services. Devolving employment and skills support will enable local government to integrate services for individuals with complex needs.

Social housing rents

  • Proposals to reduce rents paid by tenants in social housing in England by 1 per cent a year will cost councils around £2.6 billion by 2019/20. This is represents 60 per cent of local government's total housing maintenance budget each year, or equivalent to building almost 19,000 new homes over the four years. As such, we support amendment 26 which would require the Government to produce a plan to offset the impact on local government. We also support amendment 28 that would exempt tenants of specified accommodation, protecting investment in specialist accommodation.
  • Council tenants pay the lowest rents across all housing providers. There is an opportunity to complete the convergence of rents by differentially applying the reduction in social rents so that rents in registered social landlord properties reduce to a greater extent. As such, we encourage the Government to consider freezing council social rents, rather than a 1 per cent reduction, so that the rents converge.
  • Giving local government the powers it needs to build new houses would have more impact on housing affordability than freezing the Local Housing Allowance or reducing the social housing rents.

Public Bill Committee evidence session, House of Commons

Watch Councillor Gary Porter, Chairman of the Local Government Association, give evidence to the Welfare Reform and Work Bill Committee on Tuesday, September 15, 2015, or read the full transcript.

 


Second Reading, House of Commons

Key messages

  • Local government is keen to work with central government to join up services locally to tackle the root causes of unemployment, low pay and rising housing costs. Therefore the decision to address welfare and work as a whole, together with the Troubled Families programme is welcome. However, some of the provisions of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill risk simply moving costs to another area of public spending.
  • The Troubled Families programme is a proven example of the success of integrating services around an individual or family, and should be replicated. Councils and central government already work together to share data and publish comprehensive results for the programme. The LGA questions the need for additional statutory reporting, as set out in clauses 1 to 3.
  • Councils are best-placed to understand the range of needs faced by disadvantaged children but currently have limited scope to provide integrated support or influence the quality of early years and education provision.
  • Changes to benefits set out in the Bill do little to address the root causes and may instead just move the costs onto local government services. Devolving employment and skills support will enable local government to integrate services for individuals with complex needs.
  • Proposals in clauses 19 to 22 to reduce rents paid by tenants in social housing in England by 1 per cent a year will cost councils around £2.6 billion by 2019/20. This is represents 60 per cent of local government's total housing maintenance budget each year, or equivalent to building almost 19,000 new homes over the four years. Giving local government the powers it needs to build new houses would have more impact on housing affordability than freezing the Local Housing Allowance or reducing the social housing rents.

Download the full LGA briefing:

Welfare Reform and Work Bill (PDF)

6 January 2017