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Housing help to be cut

FROM the beginning of next year, housing benefit for new tenants of private landlords will be assessed under different rules. These are designed to cut the cost of housing benefit and give tenants on benefit an incentive to cut their rents.

Tenants' maximum housing benefit entitlement will be based on the appropriate rent for a property, as assessed by the local authority-employed rent officer, and the local reference rent - the typical rent in that area.

Tenants will not be paid more housing benefit than the appropriate rent for a property. Where the appropriate rent is higher than the local reference rent, the maximum rent reimbursed is the local reference rent plus half the difference between the local reference rent and the ap- propriate rent.

Prospective tenants may apply to the rent officer for a pre-tenancy determination of housing benefit rates, although these do not guarantee housing benefit will be paid.