Help on hand in home allowances shake-up

A NEW online housing portal aims to help those who will be affected by changes in the Local Housing Allowance set to come into force in early 2012.

The portal has been developed with councils including Calderdale and it will be piloted across West Yorkshire followed by a national introduction later in the year.

Changes to the benefit will affect thousands of people across the country. It is hoped the new website will address problems by matching tenants to landlords based on available properties, and the new allowance levels.

It will be free to use, for both tenants and landlords.

Tenants will be able to work out their housing allowance based on their circumstances and desired location, and landlords to ensure make sure rental thresholds are met.

The changes will mean a single-room rate will now be for all those under 35.

It could mean that where people were previously getting the one bedroom rate at £80 per week, they will find it has been reduced to £58.50. Monthly it could see a reduction from £350 to £250.

Richard Hardicre, from Calderdale Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said they had some about the scheme.

“We would be very cautious that it will alleviate the problem of landlords suddenly being willing to reduce their rents by the same amount to accommodate lower benefit rates. Landlords also have their underlying mortgages to consider.

“We could envisage a rise in rental repossessions if landlords are not realistic about their tenants’ abilities to pay – purely because of this reduction,” he said.

More information for both landlords and tenants is available on 0113 815 2249.