In the course of the Opposition day debate on housing benefit, 9 November 2010, I stated that:
“We now know that, according to the Office for National Statistics, the private marketplace in housing—Labour Members are completely wrong about this—fell by around 5% last year. At the same time, LHA rates, which the previous Government had set and left to us, had risen by 3%”.— [Official Report, 9 November 2010; Vol. 518, c. 167].
The correct answer should have been:
“We now know that, according to national statistics, the private marketplace in housing—Labour Members are completely wrong about this—fell by around 5% between November 2008 and February 2010. At the same time, national LHA rates, the system the previous Government left us, had risen by 3%”.
The source of this statistic, as published in DWP’s analytical supplement to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry of 3 November, is the Find a Property private rental index. This source for rental data has been used by the Department and wider Government since 2008 when the Department for Communities and Local Government stopped producing their own private rental index. The Find A Property index is the biggest national private rental property website with an extensive amount of nationwide data.
“For where problems do arise, we have tripled the discretionary housing payment to £140 million".—[Official Report, 9 November 2010; Vol. 518 c. 174].
I am happy to clarify that discretionary housing payment funding will be £130 million and that £10 million will be available from Communities and Local Government funding for homelessness prevention, hence totalling £140 million over the spending review period. Funding on discretionary housing payments will indeed triple in year from 2012-13.
“Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to explain how the figures show that the real-terms increase over the past five years was 50%, not 18%”.—[Official Report, 9 November 2010; Vol. 518, c. 149].
I can confirm that housing benefit expenditure has increased by 50% in real terms from £14 billion in 2000-01 to a forecast £21.5 billion in 2010-11.