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Housing Benefit

Volume 127: debated on Friday 19 February 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps are taken by his Department to ensure that a recipient of housing benefit resides at the address for which benefit is claimed;(2) what steps are taken by his Department to ensure that the declarations regarding the rent payable by applicants for housing benefit are correct;(3) what communication takes place with landlords of tenants applying for or in receipt of housing benefit.

Although the Department has responsibility for the overall structure of the housing benefit scheme, local authorities have full statutory responsibility for its day-to-day administration. It is for authorities to ensure that as far as possible claims for housing benefit are proper and correct, although detailed guidance on fraud and abuse is issued to authorities by the Department. If there is any doubt about the accuracy of the details of a claim authorities should take action as necessary to satisfy themselves that the claim is correct. Information is not collected centrally on the methods of verification used by individual local authorities. Direct contact with a landlord is established where housing benefit is being paid directly to that landlord for example because the claimant is in arrears with his rent. In these cases the authority should notify the landlord of how much housing benefit will be payable, when payments will commence and how they will be made. When direct payments cease the authority should also advise the landlord of the date of and reason for cessation.