In August 2009, 48 per cent. of customers who received housing benefit under the local housing allowance arrangements had a shortfall of £23 per week on average. This relates to shortfalls caused by a customer's contractual rent being higher than the appropriate local housing allowance rate.
The local housing allowance, rolled out from 7 April 2008, uses the appropriate local housing allowance rate, based on the area where the person lives and the size of their household, to determine the maximum amount to be included in the housing benefit calculation. Customers can choose to rent properties with rents below the local housing allowance rate and are able to keep the excess benefit up to a maximum of £15 per week. If the rent is higher than the local housing allowance rate they must make up the difference from other sources of income.
In August 2009, 25 per cent of customers who received housing benefit under the local housing allowance arrangements had their benefit paid to their landlord and 72 per cent had their benefit paid to themselves. For 3 per cent. of customers the payment destination information is not reliably reported.