§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if housing benefit is paid in respect of tenants or owner-occupiers' contributions to community alarm schemes in their own home under the present housing benefit regulations; and if it will be paid under the housing benefit regulations which come into effect on 1 April.
§ Mr. Scott
Under the present housing benefit regulations help with service charges can be provided through housing benefit for people in rented accommodation. There is no specific reference to alarm systems in the current housing benefit regulations, but the costs of this service can be met if the tenant has no option but to pay and the local authority considers that the service is "reasonably necessary for the proper enjoyment of the dwelling".590W
From April, the new regulations clarify existing policy by making it clear that housing benefit is available to help with the costs of alarm systems where they are provided in accommodation which is occupied by and specifically designed or adapted or otherwise particularly suitable for elderly, sick or disabled people.
For owner-occupiers help with service charges is available through supplementary benefit — income support from April—on the same basis as the help given to tenants through housing benefit.