HC Deb 17 September 2004 vol 424 c1796W
Mr. Peter Duncan

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he proposes to update assessed average rental values used in the calculation of entitlement to housing benefit. [188682]

Mr. Pond

Claims received from those in the private rented sector will generally be referred to the local Rent Officer for a rental valuation to determine the housing benefit claim. The market evidence that is used to compare properties for the purpose of making these valuations is updated on an ongoing basis by the Rent Service.

In nine pathfinder areas, we are testing a reform of housing benefit for tenants in the private rented sector, called the Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This is a flat-rate allowance based on broadly average market rents in the area for each size of property, and the rates are set by the Rent Officer. Once an LHA rate has been calculated, it will apply to all properties within that particular area and so will not have to be calculated separately for each property. LHA rates are updated monthly in line with any changes to market rents in the area, and are supplied to the relevant local authority. The local authority is then required to publish these figures.