Landlords of benefits tenants have dropped their rents in return for getting rental payments direct, a minister has claimed.
Lord Freud, the welfare reform minister, said that the scheme – a temporary one – had proved a success.
The government temporarily extended the discretion of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords last April when caps to Local Housing Allowance were introduced, paying a maximum of £400 a week for a four-bed property. Private landlords could only receive direct payment if they lowered their rents.
Speaking at the National Landlords Association annual conference, Lord Freud said the measure has been very successful.
He said: “In London alone, a third of claimants who tried to renegotiate their rent received a rent cut. This arrangement will stay in place for housing benefit claimants, prior to the move to Universal Credit.”
The minister also said: “There has been no mass exodus of people moving out of city centres or widespread homelessness because of our housing reforms.”â?¨
Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs last January at Prime Minister’s Questions that housing benefit reform had brought private rent levels down – a claim repeated last month by housing minister Mark Prisk.