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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2008): Social security - UK

Curate's egg

B. Walker

Roof, Jan./Feb. 2008, p.36-38

Article reports findings of the evaluation of the Local Housing Allowance which was trialled by nine pathfinder local authorities in 2003 and 2004. The Local Housing Allowance replaced Housing Benefit for private sector tenants and was designed to increase claimants' independence, expand choice of accommodation and empower tenants. The Allowance was paid directly to tenants, and in spite of fears of arrears building up, most tenants paid their rent and few defaulted. On the other hand, there was little evidence of tenants making housing decisions in the light of their new entitlements. The Local Housing Allowance is calculated by household size and is portable, so it was thought that tenants might decide to move to a cheaper property and pocket the surplus, but there is no evidence of this happening to any great extent. There was also no evidence of landlords, in fear of rent arrears building up under the new system, either exiting the market or excluding tenants on benefits.

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