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.
Head of Research and Information
8 October 2001