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The Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2011 Statutory Instruments 2011 No. 1736 SAR increase to 35 years old 1st Jan 2012

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EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM TO
THE HOUSING BENEFIT (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 2011
2011 No. 1736<


1. This explanatory memorandum has been prepared by the Department for
 Work and Pensions and is laid before Parliament by Command of Her
 Majesty.
2.  Purpose of the instrument
2.1  Housing Benefit for most single people aged under 25 years living in the
private rented sector is limited to the “shared accommodation rate” (SAR), based
on rent levels for a single room in accommodation which is not self-contained.  
This Instrument amends the age threshold so that from 1 January 2012 the SAR
will apply to most single people aged under 35 years. This is being done to help
reduce Housing Benefit expenditure and the Government feel that it is right that
single people aged 25 to 34 in receipt of Housing Benefit have to make the same
choices about their accommodation as those not in receipt of benefit.
2.2   In addition this instrument introduces two exemptions to the SAR for the
new age group, for homeless people who have slept rough or who are at risk of
sleeping rough and for ex-offenders who could pose a risk of serious harm to the
public.  The Instrument also ensures that some claimants who have been claiming
since before April 2011 who will be affected by both the Local Housing
Allowance changes and these shared accommodation rate changes experience
only one reduction in benefit at the end of their  transitional protection period.
(see 4.7 below).
3.  Matters of special interest to the Joint Committee on Statutory
 Instruments
 None.
4.  Legislative Context
4.1  This instrument is being made to extend the SAR to people aged at least
25 years but under 35, so as to implement the announcement made by the
Chancellor in the Spending Review on 20 October 2010.
4.2  The Chancellor announced the increase to the age threshold for the SAR
as part of the Spending Review on 20 October 2010. http://www.hm-<
treasury.gov.uk/spend_sr2010_speech.htm. It was further announced by Written
Ministerial Statement on 28 March 2011 that the change would be introduced
1
from January 2012.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110328/wmste<
xt/110328m0001.htm#1103283000012
4.3 At the time of the Spending Review it was thought that the measure would
be introduced from April 2012. However from April 2011 changes to LHA were
introduced that set rates at the thirtieth percentile instead of the median and
introduced caps. Having considered the interaction with the transitional protection
arrangements for these changes, which were made by S.I. 2010/2835 and S.I.
2010/2836, it was decided that the change should be brought forward to January
2012. These transitional protection arrangements introduced a protection period of
up to nine months. If the shared accommodation change was not moved forward
to January it would mean individuals affected would see two decreases in HB
entitlement in quick succession.
5.  Territorial Extent and Application
 This instrument applies to Great Britain.
6.  European Convention on Human Rights
 As the instrument is subject to negative resolution procedure and does not
 amend primary legislation, no statement is required.
7.  Policy background
What is being done and why
7.1  The principle that people aged under 25 in the private rented sector should
have their housing benefit limited to the rate appropriate for shared
accommodation was introduced in 1996. The rationalefor the SAR was to avoid a
situation where those in receipt of Housing Benefit could afford a level of
accommodation that they would not be able to maintain were they employed. It
also reflects that sharing accommodation is common among younger people; 45%
of non-student single under 25s in the private rented sector with no children and
who have not declared any HB receipt live in shared accommodation.
7.2 With the introduction of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in April
2008, as the new method of calculating Housing Benefit, for those in the private
rented sector, the principle has remained that the rate appropriate for single young
people is the SAR i.e. that for non-self contained accommodation. In this
memorandum we use the term “shared accommodation rate” as a generic term to
cover both LHA and pre-LHA cases.  
7.3 Currently the shared accommodation rate applies to:
- single people aged under 25 years;
2
- single people aged 25 or over who live in accommodation that is not self-
contained; and
- couples with no children who live in accommodation that is not self-
contained.
7.4 The current rules allow exemptions (so that the one bedroom self
contained rate would apply). These are:
tenants in certain supported accommodation;  
claimants entitled to the severe disability premium;
claimants who have a non-dependant residing with them;
claimants under the age of 22 years who were formerly in social services care;
claimants entitled to an additional bedroom to accommodate a non-resident
carer because they require overnight care.
7.5  From 1 January 2012 the age threshold for the SAR will increase from 25
years to 35 years.
7.6 This instrument is being introduced in order to:
help reduce Housing Benefit expenditure;  
ensure greater fairness - ensuring that those receiving Housing Benefit do not
have an advantage over those who are not on benefit, and that they have to
make similar choices about what they can afford;
ensure that Housing Benefit rules reflect the housing expectations of people of
a similar age not on benefits;
remove a potential work disincentive.
7.7 Existing exemptions, including those in receipt of the severe disability
premium and those with a non-resident carer will continue to apply to the new age
group as they currently apply to those aged under 25 years.  Having listened to
stakeholders and considered the recommendations of the Social Security Advisory
Committee the Government has decided to make two additional exemptions for
the extended age group only.  The first is for ex-offenders who could pose a risk
to the public if they lived in shared accommodation. The second is aimed at
preventing or rehabilitating from rough sleeping. It exempts those who have spent
time in a hostel specialising in the rehabilitation and resettlement of the homeless
within the community.  
7.8 Expenditure on Housing Benefit has increased significantly from £11
billion in 2000/2001 (£15 billion in today’s prices) to over £21.5 billion in
2010/2011. This measure is expected to save around £200m per year beyond the
current Spending Review period 2011/12 to 2014/15.
7.9 While Exchequer savings are a significant reason for introducing this
measure, it also creates more of a level playing field, in the affected age group
between recipients of Housing Benefit and those who are not on benefit. It is also
3
thought likely to decrease work disincentives by ensuring that those on Housing
Benefit cannot afford properties that they could not afford if they were not on
benefits. The Government believes that work should be people’s first choice and
also that it is reasonable that those slightly older working age individuals who
have recourse to public funds should have their Housing Benefit limited in this
way. Exemptions will remain for the most vulnerable.
7.10 Many in the 25-34 age group choose to live in shared accommodation.
Over one third of the single 25 to 34 year-olds potentially affected by this
measure are already living in shared accommodation.1
7.11  Representations have been made to Government to exclude a number of
groups which it is considered might not be able to share accommodation.
However, rather than making a number of varied exemptions which could capture
many who could in fact share, the Government considers that Discretionary
Housing Payments2 are the right approach to supporting people in vulnerable
situations as they offer flexibility and are based on local decisions which can be
targeted as needed.  The Government has decided however that there are two
groups that should be made exempt from the age increase: ex-offenders who pose
a risk to the public; and former rough sleepers or those at risk of sleeping rough.
7.12 The ex-offenders exemption will apply to a small group who are aged 25
or over who are subject to active multi-agency management under the Multi
Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA3).  Offenders subject to
MAPPA arrangements are in the main 25 years or over. In Scotland MAPPA
legislation is not yet fully in force in relation to violent and certain other offenders
and so local authorities are to apply the exemption where they consider a claimant
would present a risk of causing serious harm to the public.  This is considered
appropriate in order to safeguard the public rather than relying on Discretionary
Housing Payments.  
7.13   The second exemption will apply to people who have spent three months
or more in a homeless hostel, or more than one hostel, specialising in
rehabilitating and resettling this group within the community. To benefit from this
exemption claimants would need to have been offered and to have accepted
support services to enable them to be rehabilitated or resettled in the community.
The three month qualifying condition is designed to target the exemption at
people receiving a sustained programme of rehabilitation rather than people who
have sporadic, short term stays.  
1
 Single Housing Benefit Extract, March 2010 data
2
 Discretionary Housing Paymentsare available for those who experience a shortfall in meeting the
contractual rent and can be considered where, in the authority’s opinion, financial assistance with housing
costs is required
3
 MAPPA are the statutory arrangements for managing sexual and violent offenders. It is a mechanism
through which agencies discharge their statutory responsibilities and protect the public in a co-ordinated
manner.
4
7.14 This exemption addresses the concerns raised by a number of
commentators about the impact of these changes on rough sleepers, and in
particular the silting up of hostel accommodation. Some of these individuals will
have drink or drug dependencies, behavioural or mental health issues or a
combination of these. The Government accepts that without this exemption it will
be difficult to secure suitable move-on accommodation for this group to help them
in to a more settled way of life, which could undermine the Government’s efforts
to tackle rough sleeping and homelessness. This exemption has been targeted at
people aged 25 years and over as there is increasing prevalence among this age
group of rough sleeping.
 Consolidation
7.15 An informal consolidated text will be available to the public free of charge
 via “The Law Relating to Social Security” (Blue Volumes), on the Department for
 Work and Pensions website at
http://www.dwp.gov.uk/publications/specialist-guides/law-volumes/the-law...<
security/
8. Consultation outcome
8.1  As this measure was announced by the Government as part of the
Spending Review package, no formal public consultation was undertaken.
However, the Department engaged with a number of stakeholder groups on how
the measure should be implemented. These included Crisis, Citizens Advice,
Shelter, Homeless Link and other government departments both on a one-to-one
basis and through the DWP Policy and Strategy Forum, which is comprised of
key customer representative organisations.  Draft regulations were sent to the
Local Authority Associations for comment but they made no submissions to
DWP.  
8.2 Proposals for regulations were also considered by the Social Security
Advisory Committee (SSAC) on 4 May 2011. The Committee decided to refer the
proposals for public consultation, which took place over a four week period and
ended on 17 June 2011.  The proposals formally referred to the Committee
increased the age threshold from 25 years to 35 years but made no further
exemptions other than those already in place.
8.3 SSAC received responses from a wide range of organisations and
individuals and several presented information about the market for and
availability of shared accommodation. None of the respondents supported the
proposed changes and the majority questioned the rationale for them.  The
Committee presented its report to the Government on 6 July 2011 in which it
recommended that the proposal to increase the age threshold should not go ahead
in its current form, but if it does, it recommended a number of modifications. Its
5
report is published alongside this Instrument as part of the Act paper in which the
Government formally responds to SSAC’s recommendations.
8.4 Many respondents working with disadvantaged and excluded groups
commented that most of the clients with whom they work with, including
offenders, people with substance abuse problems, mental and other health
problems could not and should not be housed in shared accommodation.
Respondents cited security and personal safety issues, and the risks of mixing
people who are ill-equipped to manage the stresses and conflicts that can arise in
shared living space. They mentioned concerns about their clients becoming
homeless, which would place pressure on other services.
8.5 The Government’s view is that discretionary housing payments are the
right approach to supporting those in more vulnerable situations who do not meet
the qualifying conditions for the existing exemptions from the shared
accommodation rate. Local decision-making that is based on a well-informed
understanding of local conditions and the circumstances of individual claimants
can be an effective way of allocating additional support to meet different  
circumstances.  
8.6 However, following the discussions with stakeholders, and in light of the
SSAC report, it has been decided to make the two exemptions to the extension in
age outlined in part 7 above for a small group of ex-offenders and for former
rough sleepers or those at risk of sleeping rough.   The former is to be included as
the Government is keen to avoid a situation that potentially risks putting members
of the public in danger.  The latter addresses concerns raised by a number of
commentators about the impact of these changes on rough sleepers, and in
particular filling up and preventing the moving on from hostel accommodation.
The Government accepts that without this it will be difficult to secure suitable
move-on accommodation for this group to help them in to a more settled way of
life, which could undermine the Government’s ambition to end rough
sleeping.  This exemption has been targeted at people aged 25 and over who are at
greater risk of rough sleeping.
9.  Guidance
9.1  The Regulations have been laid as soon as practicably possible after
having consideration of the SSAC report. This allows local authorities just under
six months before implementation in order to amend their IT systems and
procedures and make appropriate arrangements to train and inform their staff of
the change.  Further guidance will be issued to local authority housing benefit
teams to explain the changes in full. In addition, the changes will be publicised by
making posters and leaflets available to local authorities and customer advice
groups and by updating the information available on DirectGov.
6
10. Impact
10.1   There is no impact on business or civil society organisations. However,
the exemption for rough sleepers and ex-offenders will benefit voluntary
organisations and charities that run hostels in that there will be less bed-blocking
as they will be able to find appropriate self-contained accommodation for these
groups.
10.2  The impact on the public sector is negligible.  Although local authorities
will need to update their computer systems to reflect this change to the age
threshold such changes will be relatively minor.   
10.3  A full impact assessment has not been published for this instrument
10.4  An Equality Impact Assessment and Impact Document were published on
the DWP website on 9 May http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/eia-hb-shared-<
accommodation-age-threshold.pdf and is included the Act paper that accompanies
this Explanatory Memorandum.  
11.  Regulating small business
 The legislation does not apply to small business.
12.  Monitoring & review
12.1   The measure aims to achieve Housing Benefit savings which will be
assessed by monitoring administrative data.
12.2 The Government is committed to undertaking an independent review of
the changes to Housing Benefit that came into effect from April 2011 and that
review will also include the changes made by this instrument. This will include
comprehensive primary research to look at the effects on different types of
households in a range of areas, including London, the rest of England, Scotland
and Wales.   
12.2 An independent consortium led by Ian Cole from the Centre for Regional
Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University has been
commissioned by the Department to carry out the review. Other key team
members are Peter Kemp of Oxford Institute of Social Policy, Carl Emmerson of
the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and Ben Marshall from IPSOS-MORI
12.3 The evaluation will cover the impact of the measures on:  
homelessness and moves
the shared accommodation rate and Houses in Multiple Occupancy
Greater London
7
rural communities
black and minority ethnic households
large families
people with disabilities
working claimants  
landlords
the housing and labour market
12.4  The consortium will look at the impacts of the Housing Benefit changes
at a national and local level. The consortium will carry out work in nineteen
carefully selected case study areas, chosen to reflect a balanced mix of
communities and household types, including three each in Scotland and Wales
and thirteen in England but with a concentration on the key area of London and
the South East. They will report their findings to DWP in the Spring of 2013
which will then be published.
13.  Contact
 Nina Young at the Department for Work and Pensions (Tel: 020 7449
 5351) or email: nina.young@dwp.gsi.gov.uk< can answer any queries regarding
 the instrument.
8
Keeling Schedule
2  Interpretation
(1)     In these Regulations—
“young individual” means a single claimant who has not attained the age of 25
35 years, but does not include such a claimant—
(a)     whose landlord is a registered housing association;
(b)     who has not attained the age of 22 years and has ceased to be the
subject of a care order made pursuant to section 31(1)(a) of the Children Act
1989 which had previously been made in respect to him either—
(i)     after he attained the age of 16 years; or
(ii)     before he attained the age of 16 years, but had continued after he
attained that age;
(c)     who has not attained the age of 22 years and was formerly provided with
accommodation under section 20 of the Children Act 1989;
(d)     who has not attained the age of 22 years and has ceased to be subject to
a supervision requirement by a children's hearing under section 70 of the
Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (“the 1995 Act”) made in respect of him which had
continued after he attained the age of 16 years, other than a case where—
(i)     the ground of referral was based on the sole condition as to the need
for compulsory measures of care specified in section 52(1)(i) of the 1995
Act (commission of offences by child); or
(ii)     he was required by virtue of the supervision requirement to reside
with a parent or guardian of his within the meaning of the 1995 Act, or with
a friend or relative of his or of his parent or guardian;
(e)     who has not attained the age of 22 years and has ceased to be a child in
relation to whom the parental rights and responsibilities were transferred to a
local authority under a parental responsibilities order made in accordance with
section 86 of the 1995 Act or treated as so vested in accordance with paragraph
3 of Schedule 3 to that Act, either—
(i)     after he attained the age of 16 years; or
(ii)     before he attained the age of 16 years, but had continued after he
attained that age; or
(f)     who has not attained the age of 22 years and has ceased to be provided
with accommodation by a local authority under section 25 of the 1995 Act where
he has previously been provided with accommodation by the authority under
that provision either—
9
(i)     after he attained the age of 16 years; or
(ii)     before he attained the age of 16 years, but had continued to be in
such accommodation after he attained that age; or
(g)     who is a person who requires overnight care; or
(h) who has attained the age of 25 years and to whom paragraph (1A), (1C) or
both apply;
(1A) This paragraph applies to a claimant (“C”) if—
(a) C has, for a total of at least 3 months (whether or not continuously),
occupied as his home one or more hostels for homeless people; and  
(b) whilst occupying such a hostel, C has been offered and has accepted
support services with a view to assisting him to be rehabilitated or resettled
within the community.
(1B) For the purposes of determining whether the claimant meets the condition in
paragraph (1A)(a), “hostel for homeless people” refers to a hostel, as defined in
paragraph (1), the main purpose of which is to provide accommodation together
with care, support or supervision for homeless people with a view to assisting such
persons to be rehabilitated or resettled within the community.
(1C) This paragraph applies—
(a) in England and Wales, to a claimant (“C”) if C is the subject of active
multi-agency management pursuant to arrangements established by a
responsible authority under section 325(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003
(arrangements for assessing etc. risks posed by certain offenders)(4); or
(b) in Scotland, to a claimant (“C”) if C is—
(i) the subject of local inter-agency risk management or
management by the multi-agency public protection panel pursuant to
arrangements established by the responsible authorities under section
10(1) of the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005
(arrangements for assessing and managing risks posed by certain
offenders)(5); or
(ii) a person to whom section 10(1) of that Act does not apply by
reason only of the fact that section 10(1)(b) or (d) has not been
(4) 2003 c. 44. Section 10(1) was amended by S.I. 2008/ 912. See “MAPPA Guidance (2009) Version
3.0” published in April 2009 by the Secretary of State.  
(5) 2005 asp 14. See Justice and Communities Circular JD/3/2008 and NHS CEL (2007) 8, “Sections
10 and 11 of the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005, Implementation of the Multi Agency
Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) in Scotland”, Version 4, published by the Scottish Ministers in
April 2008, ISBN 978 0 7559 1673 3.
10
brought fully into force and C is considered by the relevant authority to
be a person who may cause serious harm to the public at large; or
(iii) a person to whom section 10(1) of that Act does not apply by
reason only of the fact that section 10(1)(e) has not been brought fully
into force and who has been convicted of an offence, if by reason of
that conviction, C is considered by the relevant authority to be a
person who may cause serious harm to the public at large.
12M  Transitional protection—reduction in LHA
(1)     This regulation applies where—
(a)     reference was made to a maximum rent (LHA) in determining
the amount of the eligible rent which applied immediately before 1st
April 2011;
(b)     on or after 1st April 2011 the relevant authority is required to
determine a maximum rent (LHA) by virtue of—
(i)     regulation 13C(2)(d)(i) (change of category of dwelling)
because the claimant has become entitled to a larger category
of dwelling; or
(ii)     regulation 13C(3) (anniversary of LHA date); and
(c)     the determination referred to in sub-paragraph (b) is the first
determination of a maximum rent (LHA) the relevant authority is
required to make on or after 1st April 2011.
(2)     Where this regulation applies, the claimant's eligible rent is—
(a)     the maximum rent (LHA) where that is equal to or higher than
the eligible rent which applied immediately before 1st April 2011; or
(b)     in any other case, the lower of—
(i)     the amount of the eligible rent which applied
immediately before 1st April 2011; or
(ii)     the amount of the cap rent by reference to which the
maximum rent (LHA) referred to in paragraph (1)(b) was
determined.
(3)     Where the claimant's eligible rent is determined in accordance with
paragraph (2)(b) it will continue to apply until, on or after 1st April 2011, the
first of the following events occurs—
(a)     the period 9 months after the determination of the maximum
rent (LHA) referred to in paragraph (1)(b) has expired;
(b)     the relevant authority is required to determine a new maximum
rent (LHA) by virtue of regulation 13C(2)(d)(i) (change of category of
dwelling) because the claimant has become entitled to a larger
11
12
category of dwelling and the maximum rent (LHA) is equal to or
higher than the eligible rent referred to in paragraph (2)(b);
(c)     the relevant authority is required to determine a new maximum
rent (LHA) by virtue of regulation 13C(2)(d)(i) (change of category of
dwelling) because the claimant has become entitled to a smaller
category of dwelling;
(d)     the relevant authority is required to determine an eligible rent
following a change of dwelling; or
(e)     the relevant authority is required to determine an eligible rent
in accordance with regulation 12D(3) (protection on death).
(4)     WhereSubject to paragraph (4A), where the eligible rent ceases to apply
because of paragraph (3)(a), the eligible rent will be the maximum rent (LHA)
which would have applied but for the transitional protection in paragraph
(2)(b).
(4A) Where on the day when the eligible rent ceases to apply because of
paragraph (3)(a), the claimant is a young individual who has attained the age
of 25 years—
(a) the eligible rent will be the maximum rent (LHA) which would apply if
the relevant authority were to determine one by reference to that date,
but
(b) the LHA date for the purposes of regulation 13C will remain the date
by reference to which the local housing allowance used in the
determination referred to in paragraph (1)(b) was identified.
(5)     Where the eligible rent is the maximum rent (LHA), it shall be treated as
if it had been determined in accordance with regulation 12D(2)(a) (eligible rent
is maximum rent (LHA)) and shall apply according to the provisions of
regulation 12D.

anonymous (not verified)
anonymous's picture

Brilliant, so the word on the street will be 'commit crime if you want your rent paying'

this is appaling, this is meant to save money at a time when the CJS is already under preasure.  GREAT THINKING AGAIN!!!

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