Housing Benefit Strategy

By: Deborah Gold  Published: August 2005


This policy briefing contains the findings of Shelter's working group and outlines a strategy for the simplification and administration of Housing Benefit.

Summary

Time and again we are contacted by clients from the most vulnerable sections of society who have been made homeless or are threatened with homelessness because of rent arrears caused by the bureaucracy and complexity of the Housing Benefit (HB) system. The current system particularly puts off those who do not read or write, or who speak English as a second language. The people who have most difficulty claiming HB are often those who need its help the most. Housing Benefit has moved too far away from its original intention, which was to ensure people can afford a decent home without living in poverty, and has become dominated by bureaucracy, means testing and anti-fraud measures designed to control access and expenditure.
Recent simplifications and improvements in administration should improve the system for claimants. However, more radical simplifications are required if the system is really going to deliver for the people who need it.

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