This exchange in the House of Lords caught my attention recently:
Lord Kennedy of Southwark: So, who’s responsible here for joined-up government?
Baroness Hanham: Dunno, it’s not my department.
Actually, that’s not quite what they said. In full:
Lord Kennedy of Southwark: There is also the impact of 80 per cent of market rent, which means that a family of two adults and two children living in the London Borough of Newham needs an income of £48,000 a year to afford a home without claiming universal credit. Does the noble Baroness understand that, because of the lack of joined-up thinking across government and failed policies, hard-working families are paying the price?
Baroness Hanham: My Lords, that scoops up a whole lot of things, some of which are not entirely to do with me. The universal credit is not part of my department, although I recognise that the housing benefit goes towards the contribution of housing facilities. We are trying to provide, and will provide, affordable housing for as many people as we can. The universal credit and the amount of money paid in housing benefit is something that my noble friend Lord Freud will deal with in due course.
Over the course of the last few months, we’ve seen how the government’s benefits policies clash with their housing policies. This is just one example. Lord Freud tells us that housing benefit must be cut for private renters, because it creates too much benefit dependency. Yet, the combination of his welfare policies and the government ramping up social rents creates vastly more benefit dependency in the so-called affordable housing sector – as Roy Kennedy pointed out.
It would be good if there was a parliamentary way for our MPs or noble Lords to get Grant Shapps and Iain Duncan Smith to sit together and explain how their policies add up. At the moment, DWP says it’s CLG’s responsibility and vice versa.
This is too convenient for them.