HL Deb 13 December 1988 vol 502 cc927-8WA
The Countess of Mar

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What instructions have (a) housing benefit officers and (b) rent officers received to enable them to distinguish between care costs which are reasonably attributable to housing management and are therefore eligible items for housing benefit purposes, and those care costs which are more properly attributable to personal care and are ineligible rent items for housing benefit purposes.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Skelmersdale)

Instructions to local authority housing benefit officers on the eligibility of service charges for housing benefit are set out in Schedule 1 to the Housing Benefit (General) Regulation 1987 and in the Department's Housing Benefit Guidance Manual. All service charges for medical expenses, nursing or personal care are ineligible for housing benefit. Charges for general counselling or support services are also ineligible unless the counselling or support is related to the provision of adequate accommodation or provided by the landlord in person or the warden, caretaker or other staff who are employed by the landlord and who spend most of their time providing other services which are related to the provision of adequate accommodation. Charges for cleaning rooms are eligible where neither the claimant nor a member of the household is able to do this themselves. It is for local authorities to determine whether charges are eligible for housing benefit in the light of the individual circumstances of each case.

When the rent officer arrangements are introduced in April 1989, housing benefit officers will continue to determine which service charges are eligible or ineligible for housing benefit. The eligible and ineligible items will be identified before the case is referred to the rent officer to consider whether the rent is a reasonable market rent and note the value of any ineligible items for housing benefit subsidy purposes.