To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 11 September 2017 to Question 8560, what steps the Government is taking to reduce (a) the total sum of housing benefit being paid to private landlords and (b) the total sum of housing benefit being paid to private landlords providing unsafe and unsuitable accommodation.
Reform to housing benefit is a central part of this Government’s plan to create a welfare system that supports the most vulnerable and is fair to taxpayers. In order to limit HB expenditure in the private rent sector, Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates were frozen for 4 years from April 2016. This means rates are either frozen at April 2015 levels or are set at the 30th percentile of local rents if lower. In line with the ‘freeze’ to LHA rates, the LHA national caps (which no individual rate can exceed) are also frozen at April 2015 levels.
Local authorities have strong and effective powers under the Housing Act 2004 to deal with poor quality and unsafe accommodation in the private rented sector, including mandatory/additional licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), selective licensing of other privately rented properties and the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to assess the health and safety risks in all residential properties. We have further strengthened these measures through the Housing and Planning Act 2016, introducing civil penalties of up to £30,000 and Rent Repayment Orders for a wider range of offences.