Housing benefits to go direct to landlords if they lower rents

MORE cash is being pumped in to housing benefit in deprived areas like London’s East End in a bid to reduce rents for poor families.

Private landlords worried about rent-dodging would be paid directly by the Town Hall in exchange for lower rental charges.

It is part of the Government’s changes in housing benefits which begin in April.

“The current way housing benefit is given is unfair,” Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud admits.

“The discretionary payments strike the right balance that’s fair to the taxpayer and those on benefit, as a safety net for those who need it.”

He has pledged to “triple discretionary payments over the next three years to �60 million” which will go towards local authorities working with landlords and tenants on renegotiating rents.

In return, landlords would get a guaranteed income which addresses their worries about non-payment from Housing Benefit claimants.

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Local authorities in the 12 inner London boroughs are getting around �4m in April through the Discretionary Housing Payment fund.

Tower Hamlets alone is receiving �218,000 from Whitehall, while neighbouring Hackney gets �292,000, Newham �266,000 and the City just �3,400.

London has by far the highest number of families on housing benefit in Britain. The 33 boroughs between them are getting �8m—more than the Midlands, Wales and Scotland combined.