Property industry welcomes Housing Benefits review

25 Jan 2011

Policy area: Residential

The property industry has welcomed the announcement by the welfare reform minister, Lord Freud, that there is to be a “comprehensive and thorough” independent review into the effects of cutting Housing Benefits.

Responding to a motion in Parliament tabled by Lord Best, Lord Freud stated: “I make a firm commitment to the House that we intend to commission independent, external research to help us evaluate the impact of the reforms”.

The announcement means government proposals subject to the review include the:

  • removal of the five bedroom Local Housing Allowance rate
  • introduction of absolute cap on weekly rates
  • removal of £15 weekly Housing Benefit excess
  • inclusion of an additional bedroom for those with need for overnight care
  • setting of Local Housing Allowance rates at the 30th percentile

Lord Freud went on to state that other issues to be covered in the review would be homelessness, shared room rate and houses in multiple occupation and people with disabilities and working claimants.

Interim results are expected in the summer of 2012.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy for the British Property Federation, said: “We welcome this announcement and would urge government to hold off on further planned waves of reform until the interim results of the review are made available.

“By admitting that a review is needed, it would now be a gamble to proceed with further reforms until the findings of the review are clear. By accepting Lord Best’s motion the government is admitting it does not really know the likely impact of cutting housing benefits and should proceed carefully therefore.”