My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (John Hutton) has made the following Statement.
I am today announcing my intention to transfer my responsibilities in relation to the appointment, remuneration and administration of rent officers to the Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. Accordingly, the work of the Rent Service (TRS), which is currently an executive agency of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), will become the responsibility of the Commissioners for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and will be integrated into the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an executive agency of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. The transfer will be effective from 1 April 2009.
Following the expected rollout of the local housing allowance, the cornerstone of the Housing Benefit Reform Programme in 2008, the number of staff required to perform the rent officers' residual functions, both to support housing benefit and make valuations on fair rent cases, will not be enough to warrant an independent agency of the DWP. It would be more efficient for TRS to integrate its work with another more appropriate organisation to support the Government's wider efficiency agenda of collaboration and shared services, in order to provide better value for money to taxpayers. We have concluded that the TRS should be transferred to the VOA, due to the strong similarities between the two organisations.
This change of responsibilities will be effected by way of secondary legislation in due course. Any related changes to the proposed information-sharing gateway between rent officers and the Secretary of State in Clause 35 of the Welfare Reform Bill will be brought forward at the first appropriate opportunity.