HC Deb 09 February 2001 vol 362 c783W
Mr. Borrow

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received concerning the introduction of Housing Benefit Regulation 7 (h) on 25 January 1999; and if he will give local authorities some discretion where the provisions of the regulation cause genuine hardship. [148643]

Angela Eagle

The intention of the provision was to halt the abuse where an owner-occupier transfers ownership of his or her home without money changing hands, or for less than the market price, and rents it back. Housing Benefit is still available to anyone who can prove that he or she was forced to transfer or sell because, for example, of impending repossession for mortgage arrears.

We are aware of some cases where people sold their properties on a commercial basis some time ago and are now renting them. There is no evidence to suggest that these transactions took place to enable the seller to take advantage of the Housing Benefit scheme. We have therefore decided to bring forward amending regulations which will enable an ex-owner to claim Housing Benefit provided five years have elapsed since he or she ceased to own the property. We have completed consultation on these regulations and they will come into force this spring.