Response - Amendments to the Rent Officers Order 1997

By: Francesca Albanese  Published: November 2008


Shelter welcomes the opportunity to respond to the DWP consultation on amending the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) Order 1997 and the Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) (Scotland) Order 1997. Our response is divided into two sections: the first addresses our wider concerns about broad rental market areas (BRMAs) and localities, and the impact these have on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and Local Reference Rates (LRR); and the second outlines Shelter’s specific comments on the amendments put forward to the Rent Officers Order.

Summary

Overall, Shelter feels that the amendment to the Rent Officers Order is being proposed too early. We recommend that a more extensive review of the guidance used by Rent Officers to determine BRMAs and a review of the BRMAs themselves should be carried out. The evidence put forward in our response demonstrates there are clearly ‘losers’ within the current LHA system. To meet the Government’s policy of choice and fairness in HB and its wider ambition to promote mixed communities Shelter believes that the outcome of the Heffernan judgement and the implications for BRMAs should first be addressed before amending the Rent Officers Order.

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