Skip to main content

Local Housing Allowance

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To return to where we were on Question 7, would the Minister be surprised to hear that, despite a private landlord contacting Scarborough borough council to inform it that three months’ rent that had been paid to a tenant had not been passed on, and that, before eviction proceedings could take place, the tenant absconded, the council said that it had no alternative but to pay the subsequent payment to the tenant, although they had left the property with three months of arrears?

The hon. Gentleman has told this story, but the overall picture is quite different. In total, across the whole country, there are a million people receiving local housing allowance. It is, on average, £110 a week, and they use that to pay their rent.

I am sure the Minister saw the story in the newspapers last week of a family in west London who were receiving some £180,000 worth of benefits, most of which formed their housing allowance. The hon. Lady previously had plans to cap the very large sums of rent that were paid to families. Can she explain how such an extraordinary state of affairs came about?

We have already acted to cap those high levels of benefit by capping the local housing allowance to the five-bedroom rate. We will shortly be consulting on reform of housing benefit to make it fairer and support access to reasonably priced accommodation. The hon. Lady makes a fair point. Nobody expects housing benefit to pay for a small number of people to live in extremely expensive accommodation, but I point out to her that fewer than 100 households across the whole country receive housing benefit of more than £1,000 a week.