This note provides background information on the Bill’s provisions and summarises its content.
On 12 June 2014 Andrew George secured first place in the Private Members’ Bill ballot. He presented the Affordable Homes Bill on 2 July; the debate on Second Reading took place on 5 September and the Bill was committed to a Public Bill Committee. The Committee sat twice (on 29 October) but the Bill needs a money resolution to be passed in order to allow it progress further. Sittings of the Committee have; therefore, been adjourned.
The Bill has two distinct aims, the first of which is to introduce three new exemptions to the application of the under-occupation deduction from Housing Benefit (or the housing element of Universal Credit) for claimants who are deemed to be under-occupying their social rented homes (this provision is frequently referred to as the ‘spare room subsidy’ or ‘the bedroom tax’). Briefly, the exemptions would apply to:
• certain disabled occupiers in adapted accommodation;
• certain disabled occupants in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) who are not able to share a bedroom;
• all claimants where their landlord or local authority has not made a reasonable offer of alternative accommodation.
The second aim is to secure a review of the availability of affordable and intermediate housing by the Secretary of State. On completion, a report of the review would be laid before Parliament.
The Housing Benefit provisions in the Bill extend to England, Wales and Scotland while the provisions concerning affordable housing extend only to England.