Housing Benefit: Social Rented Housing

House of Lords written question – answered on 29th July 2014.

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Photo of Lord German Lord German Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, in the light of their recent Evaluation of Removal of the Spare Room Subsidy: Interim Report, what incentives they intend to make available to social landlords to encourage offers of alternative housing to be made to people affected by the removal of the spare room subsidy.

Photo of Lord Freud Lord Freud The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Government has already taken steps to support mobility of tenants in the social rented sector.

Our social housing reforms have given social landlords, including councils, much more flexibility when allocating housing. Our statutory guidance on social housing allocations stresses the importance of giving under-occupying social tenants appropriate priority for a transfer. It also encourages authorities to re-consider the parameters of their allocation schemes which may prevent under-occupiers from being able to move.

The introduction of the national HomeSwap Direct scheme has made it easier for tenants wanting to move to find a suitable property. A guide was issued in February 2014 to support landlords seeking to facilitate mutual exchanges; highlighting various steps landlords can take to make mutual exchange a more attractive and viable proposition for tenants. Indeed, many social landlords are helping affected tenants by holding “mutual exchange fairs”, where tenants who want to downsize can meet those looking for larger properties.

The 2015-18 Affordable Housing Programme also encourages housing providers to build appropriately sized social homes to meet local need, 77% of successful bids have been for 1 and 2 bedroom homes, increasing the stock of housing available for those working to downsize.

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