Housing benefit cost claim denied Mandarins reject Aitken rent claim: Civil servants say landlords not inflating rents
Wednesday 07 September 1994
Donald Dewar, Labour's social security spokesman, also stepped into the housing benefit dispute last night, attacking Mr Aitken as the new boy in the Cabinet who had blundered into an area of policy he appeared not to understand.
Addressing separate conferences on housing, the civil servants from the Department of the Environment cast doubt on claims made by Mr Aitken on Monday that landlords seemed to be pushing up rents. He said the Treasury was examining every element of the housing benefit bill, which had more than doubled to pounds 8.5bn over the last four years.
John Roberts, head of the department's housing and private rented sector division, told a housing conference that the level of rents was not exorbitant.
Mr Roberts said: 'Over one- third of tenants have their rent paid in whole or in part by housing benefit. I know that in some quarters that in itself is controversial. With the sector having expanded, and with rents now at market levels rather than held down artificially, the housing benefit bill has grown steadily.
'Some have described private sector rents as 'exorbitant'. But the rents are set by the market. And in general, the return being made by private landlords is not out of line with the return available in other parts of the economy.'
At another conference, Helen Ghosh, the department's head of housing policy and private finance, said rents reflected modest and fair returns on the landlords' investment in property.
She also revealed the Government's policy of shifting subsidies from grants to housing associations for social housing to personal subsidies in the form of housing benefit, had achieved public expenditure savings overall.
Mr Dewar said: 'Mr Aitken is worried about the cost of housing benefit. He must know the cause is government policy. The reason is the Government has deliberately forced up rents in both public and private sectors. If Mr Aitken wants to quarrel about this he must pick a fight with the Cabinet colleagues responsible and not the unfortunate tenants.'
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Michael Buerk wishes he'd killed Jimmy Savile when he had the chance - by pushing him overboard a cruise ship
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
Ed Miliband's 'north London set' must be demolished to save Labour, say critics
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...