Local housing allowance report welcomed
The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) welcomes the report published yesterday (30 March) by the Work and Pensions Select Committee on the Local Housing Allowance.
The CIH is pleased that much of its evidence submitted in a number of controversial areas has been reflected in the report.
CIH supports the Select Committee’s recommendations to continue making direct payment of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to tenants in the first instance. CIH believes there should be no retreat from the current policy to pay LHA direct to tenants, as it is an important element in tenants developing greater personal responsibility to manage their own finances and overcoming barriers to work.
CIH agrees, however, that local authorities should make better use of their full discretion to pay rent direct to landlords where tenants are vulnerable or have particular difficulties in managing their finances. CIH stresses that local councils should identify tenants who may need greater financial guidance and advice and put the support in place at an early stage and should not need to wait until eight weeks arrears have accrued before switching payment to the landlord.
CIH had called for local authorities to make use of their powers to pay tenants by cheque rather than automated transfer where tenants are experiencing problems with their banks, and is pleased that this has been reflected in the report.
CIH had also called for the Departement for Work and Pensions (DWP) to review the criteria for setting the market boundaries that determine the LHA rates so that they better reflect the choices that are realistically available to those in low paid employment, and welcomes this recommendation in the Select Committee report.
The recommendation from the report that the £15 excess should be retained is welcome because it incentivises tenants to shop around and therefore helps mitigate against rent levels from coalescing around the LHA rate.
Richard Capie, CIH Director of Policy and Practice said "We are delighted with the committee’s findings and that the recommendations so closely reflect the evidence we gave. We hope that these will now be taken forward by Government."
The Work and Pensions Committee report on the Local Housing Allowance published on 30 March 2010 is available at
CIH written evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee can be viewed at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmworpen/memo/local/ucm8302.htm
The video of CIH’s oral evidence on 3 February 2010 can be viewed at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=5796