Headlines: October 21st, 2002

The Local Government Association has welcomed government plans to reform housing benefit – but it will continue to press for improvements to the existing system while the proposed reforms are being assessed.The LGA has lobbied for a number of years for improvements to the benefits system, especially changes to make it simpler. Welcoming the government’s announcement of planned reform the Association Chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham, said, “We believe the proposals have real potential to make a transparent and accessible benefit system easier for local authorities to administer.”

He added that he was pleased the government had finally listened to calls for a single funding stream which would enable councils to identify how much money the government is providing to local authorities to administer housing benefit on its behalf.

“One of our key concerns, however, is to ensure that the allowance level is set to take into account the reality of the market in high demand areas. We hope that the pilot schemes will be sufficiently long term to really assess the changes in the market,” Sir Jeremy said.

He pledged the LGA to continuing its lobbying for improvements to the present housing benefit system while the pilot schemes put in place to assess the viability of the proposed reforms were still in operation.