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Housing Benefit

Volume 264: debated on Wednesday 18 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what housing benefit exists in each EU country; and if he will make a statement. [36417]

Information currently available on EU countries is as follows1:

The federal provinces provide social assistance payments to cover some or all of the costs of public or private rented housing and associated heating costs.
There is no separate, generalised system of housing benefit. Some social assistance payments may include a supplementary allowance towards housing costs.
A housing allowance is payable to those on low incomes and social assistance to meet housing costs above a level determined by the family circumstances of the claimant.
The social assistance allowance may include a supplementary element the level of which is at the discretion of the local welfare office, to cover reasonable housing costs. Besides social assistance there are three income-related schemes paying housing allowances to people on low incomes, pensioners and students. Allowances may be granted for both owned and rented accommodation and may cover up to 80 per cent. of housing costs. Those in receipt of social assistance may receive additional help to meet the remaining 20 per cent. of costs.
Income-related housing benefits are available to assist with mortgage interest payments and rents in social and private rented accommodation.
Those claiming social assistance receive supplementary amounts to cover reasonable housing costs. Owner occupiers may receive payments of mortgage interest up to a specified level which varies according to local circumstances and, if they have no realisable savings, loans to cover capital repayments. An income-related housing benefit is payable to those living in private or social rented housing and to owner occupiers.
Housing benefit is available to those aged over 65 without social insurance cover and whose only resources are the minimum pension allowance. The benefit covers rents in the private sector only and is paid directly to landlords.
Rent and mortgage supplements are available under the supplementary welfare allowance schemes. Rent supplements may be paid to people in privately rented housing and social housing provided by voluntary housing associations. Mortgage supplements to cover mortgage interest payments only may be paid to owner-occupiers.
There is no housing benefit scheme.
Rent allowances, based on the difference between gross rent and 10 per cent. of the amount of the main income support benefit—RMG—payable to the claimant, up to a fixed monthly maximum are available as part of the RMG.
A means-tested housing benefit is available to those claiming General Assistance whose rent or mortgage interest is above as specified level and below a set limit. The benefit is only available for flats and houses: people renting a single room are not eligible. Where the rent or mortgage interest is higher than the specified ceiling, a temporary housing cost supplement may be paid through general assistance.
A means-tested housing allowance is available for those in public, social and private rented housing. An emergency housing benefit is available for those in sudden need as a result of a death, unemployment or invalidity.
There is no system of housing benefit. Discretionary one-off payments may be made to assist with housing costs in cases of particular need.
There are three forms of housing assistance: (i) people on social assistance may have reasonable housing costs (rent or mortgage interest) added to the social assistance standard from which their level of benefit is calculated; (ii) a general housing benefit, the level of which is dependent on the composition of the household, the income of the household and the cost of the accommodation, and which is counted as income when calculating social assistance; (iii) for pensioners, an income tested housing supplement, the level of which varies between municipalities.


1. International comparisons of housing benefit are complex and should be treated with caution. In many countries help with housing costs differs from that in the UK because of their different social, cultural and economic traditions and circumstances, including different social security and taxation systems and different emphasis on bricks-and-mortar subsidies as opposed to personal subsidies. In addition, housing standards and housing costs vary considerably, both between and within countries, and in some countries housing benefits form part of the system of social assistance.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will bring forward proposals to equalise the subsidy effect of housing benefit between landlords with protected tenants and other landlords; and if he will make a statement. [36785]

We have no plans to introduce changes to the current arrangements for subsidising local authorities' housing benefit expenditure for rent allowances paid in respect of protected tenancies or other tenancies.