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Housing Benefit (Rent Restrictions)

Work and Pensions written question – answered on 24th March 2003.

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Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Regent's Park and Kensington North

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of housing benefit recipients in private regulated and deregulated tenancies were subject to reduced rent determinations in each region in England in each year since 1996 as consequence of (a) pre-1996 restrictions and (b) post-1996 restrictions.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions

Rents for tenancies in the regulated private rented sector are subject to regulatory controls through the Rent Service and Rent Assessment committees as well as subsidy controls within housing benefit. Decisions on restrictions on the amount of benefit paid in these cases are made by local authorities and no information is collected on the number of restrictions that are applied.

Claims from tenants in the deregulated private rented sector are generally referred to the rent officer for a determination. Housing Benefit Management Information System data provided by local authorities show the numbers of these tenants whose claims to housing benefit are assessed under the local reference rent and single room rent schemes. These data do not distinguish between cases where rent is restricted following a rent officer determination and those where it is not (for example because the actual rent is sufficiently low, or the person claiming has transitional protection).

However, using information from rent officer statistics, it is possible to e estimate the proportion of deregulated private rented sector cases referred by local authorities where housing benefit would be restricted if the overall claim was successful. Estimates are in the table.

Estimated proportions of deregulated private rented sector cases referred to the rent officer which would be subject to reduced rent determinations under pre-1996 and post-1996 restrictions if the housing benefit claim was successful, by English Government Office Region.

1996–97 1997–98 1998–99 1999–00 2000–01
Government Office Region Pre-1996 Post 1996 Pre-1996 Post 1996 Pre-1996 Post 1996 Pre-1996 Post 1996 Pre-1996 Post 1996
London 23 47 19 49 19 48 19 44 21 39
North West 19 49 25 50 26 50 30 48 34 43
West Midlands 19 45 22 45 21 46 21 44 21 40
North East 31 41 33 43 35 41 38 37 46 30
Yorkshire and Humberside 27 42 24 49 25 48 26 47 28 44
East Midlands 31 41 27 48 28 47 26 46 26 43
Eastern 15 49 11 56 11 56 10 57 10 52
South East 18 44 15 52 16 50 17 46 19 43
South West 21 44 16 52 15 52 16 47 21 42
Total 22 45 21 50 21 49 22 46 26 41


1. The data refer to households claiming Housing Benefit (HB), which may be a single person, a couple or a family. More than one benefit household can live in one property, for example two or more adults in a flat or house share arrangement.

2. Pre-1996 reduced rent determinations apply to cases where the accommodation is deemed to be too large for the household or where the rent is exceptionally high for the accommodation.

3. Post-1996 reduced rent determinations include restrictions under the local reference rent (LRR) and single room rent (SRR) schemes only. The LRR was introduced in January 1996 and a revised scheme introduced in October 1997. The SRR was introduced in October 1996.

4. Cases subject to reduced rent determinations as a consequence of both pre-1996 and post-1996 restrictions have been included under the restriction that reduces the rent to the lowest amount.

5. Estimates assume that all cases are subject to all determinations in place at the time. In practice, some cases will have transitional protection from the post-1996 restrictions, so will not have their actual rent restricted. This will be particularly likely in the early years when more cases would have transitional protection.

6. The data relate to all referrals made over a year. They will differ from the HB caseload in that some claims will not be successful (for example, because the person's income is too high) and because some people may claim more often than others (for example, because they move house, or leave and then return to benefit). The figures will therefore over-rep resent short duration claims.

7. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.


Rent Officer data (England and Wales) for April to March of each year.

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