Brighton project dilutes optimism

The head of a Brighton housing project has questioned claims by
a government minister that the introduction of the new local
housing allowance in the city has helped tackle homelessness.

Brighton Housing Trust deputy chief executive John Holmstrom
said the advantages of the allowance, which is being piloted as a
replacement for housing benefit, were cancelled out by the

Department of Work and Pension minister James Plaskitt said last
month that the allowance, which pays an amount based on an average
local rent directly to the claimant, was helping to tackle
homelessness and had no significant effect on arrears. He cited
Brighton as a particularly successful pilot area.

Holmstrom said the allowance was helping claimants access
private-rented housing because it was well-implemented by the
council and was being paid at more generous levels than housing

But he said private landlords were unhappy about the allowance
because they felt it was causing greater rent arrears.

He suggested the scheme should offer rent in advance and rent
deposits, to make the private-rented sector even more accessible to
benefit claimants.


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