Reply To: A name for the extra £15


The simple fact is that within 6 months of operation the DWP recognised January 1996 changes did not work, HB costs kept on rising and as a result the October changes were introduced. This still did not work.

The LHA scheme was to be a major simplification of HB, which would have stopped the circumstance Peter is now describing. This is from a paper prepared in 2000 in response to the Government White paper on Housing. I have still been unable to find an electronic copy (on a very old PC somewhere).

[quote:90509e1a03]The ability of tenants to negotiate rents is limited by the lack of knowledge about how much the Councils are prepared to pay. It is not true to suggest claimants do not negotiate rents, they do but only after their case has been assessed and if their rent has been restricted. There is no financial incentive to do otherwise.

The existing Pre-Tenancy determination has helped tenants form a view about whether they can afford the accommodation, however as it depends on the tenant, the landlord, the Council and the Rent Officer Service acting effectively, it more often than not fails. As a result there are very few Pre-Tenancy determinations in comparison to the number of new claims.

The Local Reference rent should be made clear and publicly available. Then everybody would know how much the Council is prepared to pay. This helps the tenant and the landlord and ends the prevalent myth that whatever the rent level submitted, the Council will always restrict it. The indicative rent level should be scrapped, as should the need to refer individual rents to the Rent Officer Service. The Rent Service should purely determine the average level of rents, which should be obtained from benefit claim totals and local advertisements.


[quote:90509e1a03]In order to negotiate rents downwards if tenants have negotiated a rent below the average, they should be able to “pocket the difference”. This would balance out, as the average would be reduced as tenants sought to gain from this.

This should not apply to Housing Association properties or pre- 1989 tenancies, which should be excluded from the RO scheme in the same way they are now, but all other protections should be scrapped. There should not be a “new, new, new, new” scheme in operation with all the other schemes.

Such a scheme would definitely improve accountability, as every claimant would look to pocket some difference. In doing so, they will be contributing to reducing rent levels. This also has the advantage of speeding up claims as processing time is reduced considerably and the delay in getting a Rent Officer value is removed. [/quote:90509e1a03]