Select Committee on Work and Pensions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to Committee from the National Housing Federation (OP 10)

  Thank you for your invitation to submit evidence to this inquiry. Rather than submitting evidence, we would like to make a suggestion regarding the scope of the inquiry.

  The National Housing Federation represents over 1400 independent not-for-profit social housing providers in England. The Federation's members own and/or manage more than 1.7 million homes provided for affordable rent, supported housing and low-cost home ownership, and deliver an increasingly diverse range of community and regeneration services.

  The National Housing Federation would be particularly interested in the inquiry investigating the effectiveness of the 'ONE' pilots in processing Housing Benefit claims.

  Housing Benefit administration is one of the key problems facing housing associations and their tenants. Its complexity and the difficulties staff have in accurately and speedily carrying out assessments, and processing changes of circumstances, acts as a strong disincentive to tenants in low paid or periodic employment from maintaining their careers. The inquiry may like to undertake a comparison between the administration of Housing Benefit in a selection of local authority areas not participating in the "ONE" pilots and those that are, to see if substantial improvements in performance resulted.

  Our supposition is that this form of one-stop shop, where assessment of personal circumstances, income and the like can be carried out once, for access to all work-focused benefits, must be an improvement on the norm of multiple assessments for different purposes, and should promote better administration. If this is proved to be the case, then we would welcome the extension of the scheme to the "Jobcentre Plus" pathfinders.

Danny Friedman

Head of Research and Information

Policy Department

8 October 2001

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