HC Deb 23 May 2002 vol 386 cc539-40W
Mr. Peter Duncan

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will amend the housing benefit regulations to take into account those individuals whose financial circumstances have changed between selling the property they continue to reside in, and making a claim for housing benefit; [52955]

(2) what reason the amendment of regulation 7 of the Housing Benefit regulations, effective in January 1999, excluded from entitlement to benefit those who previously owned the home they now rent. [52956]

Malcolm Wicks

The intention of Housing Benefit regulation 7(1)(h) is to halt the abuse of the scheme where an owner-occupier transfers ownership of his or her home without money changing hands, or sells it for less than the market price, and then rents it back.

Housing Benefit is still available to anyone who can demonstrate that he or she was forced to transfer or sell, for example because of impending repossession for mortgage arrears. A further amendment, from May 2001, allows a former owner to claim Housing Benefit provided five years have elapsed since he or she ceased to own the property.

We keep all our policies under review but have no plans to make further amendments to this provision.