A review of income eligibility for social housing supports in each local authority area is under way, and this review will encompass issues such as the one referred to. The Housing Agency is continuing to carry out the detailed statistical work, which will underpin this review, on behalf of my Department.
The review will also have regard to current initiatives being brought forward in terms of affordability and cost rental and will be completed when the impacts of these parallel initiatives have been considered.
In relation to local authority rents, the power of local authorities to set and collect rents on their dwellings is laid down in section 58 of the Housing Act 1966. The making or amending of such schemes is a local authority function and is subject to broad principles set out by my Department, including that rent levels should be based on income and reflect tenants’ ability to pay.
Different approaches are taken to rent charging and setting across the country, which can mean that various sources of income are treated differently in different local authority areas. Considerable work has been carried out by my Department in developing a draft national differential rents framework for the purposes of section 31 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. Such a framework has as its main aim the harmonisation of local authority rents, including a set of standardised income disregards, while retaining the general principle of rents being related to household income. I expect that the review will be completed in the near future.