Lilley to target poor families

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The Independent Online
LOW-INCOME families on housing benefit could be the next target under the Government's controversial review of the welfare state, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Peter Lilley, Secretary of State for Social Security, is drawing up proposals aimed at encouraging claimants to move to cheaper accommodation in an attempt to contain the costs of the benefit, which will approach pounds 9bn in the current financial year.

Mr Lilley is understood to be examining a tentative suggestion for a system of regional maximum rents which could involve some families moving to cheaper homes to qualify for help with rent.

While local authority rent officers tend not to authorise payment of the benefit in luxury districts, there is no specific rental ceiling above which rents cannot be reimbursed. But a combination of a duty to reimburse 'reasonable rents' and the relaxation of rent controls have helped contribute to the soaring bill, which is reimbursed out of central funds.

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