§ Mr. Redmond
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proposals he has for including in the criteria for entitlement to housing benefit an assessment of the number of rooms which claimants should have in their homes; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
The Housing Benefit Regulations permit local authorities to restrict the amount of rent eligible for housing benefit, in certain circumstances, where they consider that the claimant's accommodation is larger than is reasonably required. No room standard is set down in either legislation or guidance.
From April 1989, local authorities will apply to a rent officer for a determination of a reasonable market rent where the claimant lives in deregulated private sector accommodation. One aspect of these new arrangements will be that the rent officer will decide, against a room standard laid down in an order setting out rent officers' functions, whether the claimant is over-accommodated. If so, he will notify to the local authority a notional market rent for suitably-sized but otherwise similar accommoda-tion. It will continue to be for the local authority to decide on the level of benefit paid. After 13 weeks, subsidy due to the local authority will generally be limited to benefit paid up to the level of the notional rent.