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Government Offers Direct Payment Guarantee For Social Landlords

Government Offers Direct Payment Guarantee For Social Landlords

Private Rental Sector Landlords
Expected To Fend For Themselves

PRS landlords were left furious after the Government Welfare Reform minister offered social landlords the opportunity for direct payment of housing benefit under the Universal Credit scheme, but there was no such offer for private landlords.

Government Welfare Minister, Lord Freud has offered landlords a series of small concessions over Universal Credit, with payment of housing benefit to tenants temporarily suspended if rent arrears exceed two months. However, this only applies to social housing landlords, i.e local authorities and housing associations and not private sector landlords.

Lord Freud confirmed that direct payment of housing benefit to tenants who are at least two months’ behind with their rent, would be suspended, with the total amount of rent outstanding paid back to social landlords within six to nine months.

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New Report Backs Welfare Reforms

New Report Backs Welfare Reforms

Research from an independent consortium led by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University covering the impact of recent Housing Benefit reform in the private rented sector was published on Monday 13th May.

The report examined the attitudes of tenant claimants and private rented sector buy-to-let landlords in 19 areas across the UK, following the Housing Benefit and Welfare Reforms that were ordered by the coalition Government in April 2011.

Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform said:”Reform of Housing Benefit in the private rented sector was absolutely necessary to control a system that saw spending double over a decade to more than £20 Billion (GBP) a year. However, it is also necessary to monitor and follow the reforms to help us build and learn for the future”.

Ian Cole, Professor of Housing Studies at the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR), said:”This report provides findings from in-depth interviews undertaken with tenant claimants, landlords and housing advisors in early stages of the implementation of the reforms.

The CRESR also conducted separate analysis of all UK Housing Benefit claims to provide an insight to the initial impacts of the welfare reforms across the UK.

The CRESR report finds:

  • Large numbers of tenants claiming benefits have not been forced to move out of rental properties during the study
  • In 120 UK local authority areas, overall reductions to a tenant’s Housing Benefit / Local Housing Allowance (LHA) have been averaged at £5 (GBP) or less
  • The extra £130 Million (GBP) of support from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to local authorities to help tenant claimants with Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) has assisted tenant claimants well where Housing Benefit / LHA reductions have been greater than the national average.

The consortium is led by Ian Cole, Professor of Housing Studies, from the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University. Other key team members included Peter Kemp of Oxford Institute of Social Policy, Carl Emmerson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Ben Marshall from IPSOS-MORI.

The Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University is one of the UK’s leading academic research centres specialising in social and economic regeneration, housing and labour market analysis.

The consortium’s research started in April 2011 and will run until this Autumn (2013) and covers the effects of:

  • Setting Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates from the median to the 30th percentile of local market rents from April 2011
  • Capping Local Housing Allowance rates by property size from April 2011 to:
    • £250 per week for 1 bed
    • £290 per week for two bed
    • £340 per week for three bed
    • £400 per week for four bed or more
  • The increased Government contribution to the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) budget
  • Increased powers of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords to support tenant claimants in order to retain and secure tenancies in the private rental sector.
  • Allowing an additional bedroom within the size criteria used to assess Housing Benefit claims in the Private Rented Sector where a disabled person, or someone with a long-term health condition, has a proven need for overnight care and it is provided by a non-resident carer who requires a bedroom.

The full research ‘Monitoring the impact of changes to the Local Housing Allowance system of Housing Benefit: Interim report’ is available here: Monitoring the impact of changes to the Local Housing Allowance system of Housing Benefit: Interim report

The Scottish Government along with the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) and Welsh Assembly Government are working in close partnership with the DWP and each contributing to the costs of the review.

Further CRESR reports are expected to be published in early 2014.

Universal Credit will not work say landlords

Private landlords have already rejected the Government’s welfare reform plans for housing benefit, before that have even been implemented, stating that there will not be enough private rented sector (PRS) properties available to rent.

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Gov Insist Direct Payment Deal Is Bringing PRS Rents Down

Lord Freud, the Government welfare reform minister, has claimed that the majority of UK landlords of benefits tenants have dropped their PRS rental prices in return for getting direct payments.

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

Government Out Of Touch On PRS Rents

The “out of touch” statement does not reflect what is really happening in the UK Private Rental Sector or the rise of PRS rents and is giving misleading information to existing landlords.

The Government temporarily extended the discretion of local authorities to make direct payments to landlords last April when caps to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) were introduced, paying a maximum of £400 a week for a four-bed property.

Private sector landlords were told that they could only receive direct payment for tenants claiming benefits if they lowered their PRS rent. This simply is not true!

According to the essential landlords handbook written by theLHAexpert.com – UK Landlords can still receive direct rent payments for tenants claiming benefit if the tenant is classed as vulnerable.

Speaking at the National Landlords Association (NLA) annual conference, Lord Freud said “The measure has been very successful. 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. There has been no mass exodus of people moving out of city centres or widespread homelessness because of our housing reforms.”


Hmmm… I was under the impression that some local authorities had been criticised for shipping families out of their boroughs, in a bid to avoid local authority overspending on PRS rents…and London is the worst culprit!

In a report titled “Between A Rock And A Hard Place: The Early Impacts Of Welfare Reform On London”,by the Child Poverty Action Group and Lasa, a welfare rights charity, found that many councils are actively considering obtaining accommodation elsewhere, while others believe that making up private rent shortfalls will leave the authorities with gaping holes in their budgets. The report also predicts that 124,480 London residential households will be hit by a combination of cuts to Local Housing Allowance, the new benefit cap which means no household can claim more than £26,000 a year in total, and under-occupation penalties.

According to a survey in the Guardian, some London councils are already acquiring properties in Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire and Sussex, and are considering accommodation in Manchester, Hull, Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham and Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales.

This is despite guidance issued by former government housing minister, Grant Shapps telling councils in May 2012, that they must “as far as is reasonably practicable” offer accommodation for homeless families within the borough.

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, newly appointed, government housing minister, Mark Prisk.

Local councils in London say that because of buoyant demand, Private Rented Sector (PRS) landlords see no reason to drop rents for benefits tenants, and that many landlords have already refused to accept applications from tenant’s claiming benefits.

So Mr Cameron does refusing tenant’s on benefit qualify as reducing LHA rents?

Just because there has been a drop in Government and local authority spending on LHA payments, it does not support the Governments claims. The real truth is that the Government are putting the squeeze on the UK PRS as they fear that landlords will make more profit than the government can either control or even tax.

Such a shame that the people who are supposed to be in charge of our country are so out of touch with the real world, especially in the wake of Friday’s post about “Record Rental Prices”.

UK PRS Landlords still avoiding housing benefit tenants

1/3 of Private Rental Sector Landlords Avoiding Tenants Claiming Benefits

A new Government report has revealed a growing concern about UK landlords, as an increasing percentage are now refusing to accept applications from tenants claiming housing benefits.

The situation regarding LHA tenants is set to get much worse, following the recent statements made by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his party’s vision for further welfare reform. Read full story

The Government commissioned report was compiled by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University revealed that over one third of the 1867 landlords who agreed to take part, are already actively refraining from accepting LHA tenants or are considering avoiding benefit tenants in the future.

This change in UK landlord’s perspectives has developed since the government capped housing benefit payments in April 2011, meaning that many LHA claimants are no longer able to claim the entire rental amount from the local authority.

33% of the UK landlords surveyed admitted having severe reservations concerning the reliability of payments from LHA tenants, and as a result they were either planning to or considering no longer accepting benefit claimants as tenants.

29% of landlords had already gone through the process of tenant eviction with LHA tenants or had refused to renew the tenancies of benefit claimants when they came to an end.

36% also admitted that they were experiencing increased rental arrears from LHA tenants because of the changes to benefit payment levels made last year.

Landlords can safely and legally recover rent arrears/debts from all types of tenants, including absconded tenants by using Legal 4 Landlords professional services

Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, didn’t see the results of the Government commissioned report as worrying, stating that: “The research gives us an early insight into what is really happening, and it shows that the many scare stories about the effects of housing benefit reform are simply not materialising.”

If that were true, why are an increasing number of UK landlords wrongly avoiding accepting LHA tenants?
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get regualr direct payments from any Local authority – Get “The Landlords Essential LHA Handbook” by John Paul – The LHA Expert

Nine out of ten tenants claiming state benefits want their local housing allowance (LHA) payments to continue to be paid directly to their landlords.

Research, from consultancy Policis, as part of a national survey of 1,000 social housing tenants suggests that UK Government plans to pay housing benefit straight to tenants as part of the introduction of Universal Credit are opposed by most tenants as well as landlords and lenders.

The survey commissioned by The Big Issue, Invest, (a financier of social enterprises), and conducted with tenants from 3 housing associations (Affinity Sutton, Hyde and Riverside), found that 80% thought the Government’s proposal to pay housing benefit direct to tenants is a bad idea.

It showed that 35% of tenants are not confident they would be able to keep up their rental payments – confirming fears of lenders that the stability of landlords’ rental income would be impacted by the changes.

As part of the UK Governments’ benefit reforms, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has announced that housing benefit, will be paid out once-a-month to help people prepare for the working environment where people are paid monthly.

However, the report shows that 54% of tenants believe these plans would make it more difficult for them to manage their money than at present under the fortnightly payments.

The research, supported by the National Housing Federation, (NHF), found 71% of social housing tenants received housing benefit with 92% having their housing benefit paid to their landlord. 

Keith Exford, Chief Executive of Affinity Sutton, (over 56,000 properties), said “‘While we recognise that the payment of the housing element of the Universal Credit directly to residents supports the broad principles of financial inclusion and independence, this research highlights the very real concerns of our residents that removing this option will leave many households struggling to pay their rents and keep their homes.”

Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, David Orr, said “These polling results support the Federation’s position that preservation of customer choice should be a key principle of welfare reform. They unequivocally show that tenants want to retain the ability to choose to have the housing element of their welfare payments paid direct to their landlords. The government should now confirm that customer choice will be retained in the design of the Universal Credit.”

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