Government got it wrong on LHA

Nia Williams

March 30, 2010

The moves comes in response to today’s publication of the Work and Pensions Select Committee report into Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

The NLA agrees with the Committee as it came out strongly against the Government’s proposal to make direct benefit payments conditional on energy efficiency which it said had the potential to do ‘more harm than good’.

Further recommendations in the report call on local authorities to be more pro-active in identifying vulnerable tenants, and to provide more advice services and support. Underlying this was the Committee’s emphasis that ‘the onus should not be on the claimant to inform the local authority that they are vulnerable’.

Research by the NLA shows that LHA has generated rent arrears across the whole private-rented sector of as much as £220 million since it was rolled out nationally. The Committee has recommended that the Government goes further commission an in-depth study on rent arrears ‘to gain a clearer picture of the scale of the problem’.

David Salusbury, chairman, NLA, said: “This report highlights the reality that LHA is not working as well as the Government would like to believe. The NLA’s own survey found on average landlords were owed £4,400. This is public money that neither the taxpayer nor landlords can afford to lose.

”If the sector is unconvinced by the Government’s proposals for reform and the committee’s report is critical, then we think Government needs to look carefully at these findings, deal with rent arrears and try not to make matters worse.”

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