§ Mr. Robin Cook
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what advice he is offering housing authorities in Scotland on the need to make fresh assessments of current claims from private tenants to ensure landlords reduce rate and rent charges to reflect the abolition of rates from 1 April.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
Local authorities in Scotland have been advised that housing benefit should be assessed on the basis of the amount of rent the tenant is contractually liable to pay to occupy his home. After 1 April, when domestic rates are abolished in Scotland, local authorities will no longer be obliged to apportion rent between rent and rates in cases where the tenant has no personal liability to pay rates but pays an inclusive sum to his landlord. In such cases, the maximum housing benefit payable will therefore be 100 per cent. of the global sum as opposed to 100 per cent. of the amount apportioned as rent plus 80 per cent. of the amount apportioned as rates. Landlords will no doubt take the reduction in their overheads as a result of the abolition of domestic rates into account in setting the level of rents. Local authorities have powers to restrict the amount of housing benefit payable where the rent charged is unreasonably high.