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Shelter Report on implementation of LHA

Shelter has released a report on its findings on a study monitoring the implementation of local housing allowance. I like the report title – For Whose Benefit. Very apt question indeed. There is a summary report for those who don’t have the time or inclination to read the whole thing.
Having read the report, I would say that this gofmint had better read it and take not of its findings, use them its recently announced public consultation on housing benefit. Or be damned.

The report says what we Landlords have known all along. OK, bear with me and I’ll give you the jist…

1. Most claimants would prefer to have the LHA paid directly to the landlord. Did you hear that, gofmint. In your consultation paper, section 6.8, you make assertion that direct payment is an important component of reforms to the system, providing your customers with the responsibility for handling benefit payments and paying their rent which they will need when moving into work. You assume that (i) all claimants want to work and (ii) all claimants can manage money. Both assumptions are wrong, okay. And I can prove it to you.

2. Claimants were finding it hard to find landlords willing to rent to LHA claimants or affordable homes. Why would we want to open ourselves to legalised fraud? Yes, dear gofmint, you have legalised daylight robbery aimed directly at private landlords – the very ones that you claim in 6.4 of your consultation paper “play a crucial role in providing flexible housing choices for people who cannot afford or choose not to buy their own homes“. If we play such a crucial role, stop treating us with such contempt and put your money where your mouth is!!

3. Need for top up payments was a problem, which means LHA award is not sufficient, hasn’t and isn’t being calculated properly. This basing the rent on a Broad Market Rental Areas thing needs a revamp.  The amount of time I spend chasing topups…. its reduced now I use DD to collect rents and top ups.

4. 95% of claimants they surveyed were finding it difficult to manage their finances. doh! I could have told them that … people who have not been taught money management or ever learnt it or worked for it, can’t suddenly become responsible money managers can they??. Its not their money is it? easy come … easy go. But the gofmint claims in section 6.8 of its document that” many customers now operate bank accounts successfully, in may cases for the first time, as a result of this reponsibility“. Many have also defrauded the tax payer and not paid the benefit to the landlord-but gofmint does not see that as fraud, does it?

5. LHA payment cycles of 2/4 weeks causing problems with rent arrears – not aligned with monthly rent dates that landlords require. The very nature of the system encourages LHA claimants to breach their tenancy agreements. from the get go. LHA is paid 4 weekly in arrears – so the service is already provided before the rent is paid. And if some bod at the benefit office decides that the claimant was not entitled to it, then they don’t pay it. And who has lost money? dear old trodden-upon landlord!! Do they care, these bods, no sir, they don’t …. afterall they will tell you “we are just following gofmint guidelines“… yeah, right!! Bet they wouldn’t be so complacent if they had shortfalls in their paypackets because they were deemed not to have done their jobs properly during the month!

6. Reduction in LHA when people move into work is a disincentive to work … eh, yes, common sense tells us that, doesn’t it? why not find a way of easing the transition period, or better still set the LHA rates to better reflect the going rents?

7. Claimants felt that the administrative process of the LHA was a problem … LOL, ROF, ha ha ha, ho ho ho …. excuse me, but I had to laugh at that one. Don’t we just know it. As a landlord, I am the one at the receiving end of the cockups, sorry, administrative errors, that the councils make in administering the scheme.

Thank you Shelter, for that incisive and unbiased report. I will most certainly be putting in my input into the consultation process – bet I will. Question to other landlords is “will you participate??” I really really hope so.

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