Campaigners and MPs have welcomed the government’s decision to commission an independent review of the impact of controversial cuts and reforms to housing benefits on disabled people and other minority groups.
Lord Freud, the minister for welfare reform, made a “firm commitment” to commission independent research into the impact of the reforms.
He said the research would look at the effect of the cuts on disabled people, homelessness, black and minority ethnic households and older people, among other areas.
The coalition government plans to reduce housing benefit by 10 per cent for anyone who has been on jobseeker’s allowance for a year.
It will also introduce a new cap on housing benefit payments, as well as new age limits so claimants under 35 – instead of 25 – will have to share flats or houses instead of being able to rent their own home.
The decision to commission an independent review was welcomed by RADAR.
But Marije Davidson, RADAR’s public affairs manager, said disabled people should be involved in developing the terms of reference for the review, and that the charity would “like to hear how the Department for Work and Pensions plans to involve disabled people throughout the review”.
The Commons work and pensions committee, which is led by the disabled MP Dame Anne Begg, also welcomed the review.
The committee had highlighted in a report how difficult it was to predict the effect of the changes and called on the government to “fully evaluate the impact”.
Witnesses told the committee that the housing benefit reforms would “inevitably” lead to “evictions and increased levels of homelessness” for some groups, including disabled people.
Dame Anne welcomed the government’s commitment to an independent review, which had been a “key recommendation” of the committee’s report.
She added: “At that time, I highlighted how difficult it is to predict exactly what the impact of these changes will be. We look forward to assessing the outcome of the review.”
The government’s formal response to the committee’s report is due later this month.
3 February 2011