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Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Any determination of anti-social behaviour, which could lead to a housing benefit sanction, would be based on the facts of the particular case and would include consideration of a family's circumstances for the purpose of deciding whether to apply a lower rate sanction on grounds of hardship.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We propose that a sanction might be applied to a tenant's housing benefit in response to anti-social behaviour by the tenant, by any member of their household, or visitor to their household, regardless of age.

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Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, before introducing housing benefit sanctions, they will consult the Children's Society about the possibility that parents may evict children whom they cannot control; and what would be the response to such evictions. [HL3175]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We welcome the views of any organisation or individual on these proposals. We have sent a copy of the consultation paper to the Children's Society.

If any children leave home in these circumstances, they will have access to the same help and support as any other children who are homeless.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to paragraph 17 of the consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour, whether they will consult the Attorney-General about the developing interpretation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights; and whether they will ask him to keep this under review.[HL3176]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We take advice as necessary on matters relating to the European Convention on Human Rights, but it is not the practice of Her Majesty's Government to disclose the sources of their legal advice.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to paragraph 18 of the consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour, whether their definition of hardship rests on any medical evidence.[HL3177]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We will set out detailed proposals in the light of responses to the consultation. The exact test of hardship is yet to be decided. Criteria for applying a lower sanction in other benefits include, for example, the presence in the family of a person who is pregnant or seriously ill.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to ensure that the proposals in paragraphs 23 and 24 of the consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour are compatible with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. [HL3178]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: It would be the Government's intention to include such safeguards in any provision for sanctions to ensure their compatibility with Article 6. For example, a system to impose a sanction through an administrative process would therefore include the right of appeal to an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour, what rate of reduction of housing benefit is contemplated; and on what evidence this rate has been chosen.[HL3202]

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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: As we are consulting on these measures, we will wait for responses before setting out our detailed proposals. Sanctions in the income-related benefits normally involve a reduction by an amount equal to 40 per cent of the personal allowance for a single person, or 20 per cent for prescribed groups.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they estimate will be the reduction in housing benefit spending as a result of the sanctions set out in their consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour; and[HL3203]

    What is the extent of losses they estimate will be suffered by landlords as a result of housing benefits sanctions set out in their consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour; and whether landlords will receive any compensation for these losses; and[HL3204]

    What they estimate will be the effect of their proposals set out in their consultation paper Housing Benefit Sanctions and Anti-social Behaviour on the size of the pool of potential social landlords.[HL3205]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Our intention is that sanctions will work as a deterrent to anti-social behaviour. In that case, they will be imposed in relatively few cases and the impact on housing benefit spending would therefore be minimal.

Our consultation includes representative groups of local government and housing associations, and individual local authorities and registered social landlords. We will consider the possible impact of the proposals in the light of responses to the consultation.

The impact of any sanction that is imposed would be to reduce the money available to the tenant, but it would not remove his duty to pay the rent. Sanctions are a longstanding feature of the benefit system. It is not the practice to compensate third parties when a person does not meet his financial commitments to them because his income is reduced by a sanction.

Benefit Sanctions: Hospital Admissions and Imprisonment

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether those subjected to previous benefit sanctions have a higher or lower rate of admission to hospital than other people on means-tested benefits; and[HL3206]

    Whether those subjected to previous benefit sanctions are more or less statistically likely to suffer imprisonment than other people on means-tested benefits. [HL3207]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The information is not available.

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Barrie

University Entrants: Socio-economic Classification

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of university entrants were from social groups C2, D and E, (a) in 2002; (b) in 1992; (c) in 1982; and (d) in 1972.[HL2705]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The available information on the social class of higher education students covers only those who apply to full-time and sandwich undergraduate courses via the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and its predecessor organisations, the Universities Central Council for Admissions (UCCA) and the Polytechnic and Colleges Admissions Service (PCAS). The proportions of accepted applicants who came from the skilled manual, semi-skilled and unskilled social classes were 26 per cent in 1992 and 28 per cent in 2001; comparable figures for earlier years are not held centrally. In 2002, following a major review of government social classifications commissioned by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a new socio-economic classification was introduced, which is not directly comparable with the social class figures for previous years. The socio-economic classification is derived from the individual's occupation, employment status, and the size of the organisation in which they work, whereas social class was based on their occupation only; and it uses an updated list of occupations.

However, figures are available for participation rates by social class back to the 1970s, and these are shown in the table below. Participation rates express the number of young people in higher education, as a proportion of the total number of young people in the general population.

The Government are committed to raising the participation rates for people from less affluent backgrounds, and have introduced the Excellence Challenge, including the AimHigher campaign, which is targeted at raising attainment and aspirations among young people who traditionally would not consider going to university.

Age Participation Rates(1) for social classes IIIm, IV, and V(2)

YearAPI
19705%
19807%
199010%
200018%

(1) The API is defined as the number of UK domiciled under 21 initial entrants to full-time and sandwich courses expressed as a proportion of the averaged 18–19 year old GB population.

(2) Skilled Manual (IIIM), Semi-skilled (IV), and Unskilled (V).


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