I have long had a concern about the Local Housing Allowance especially in this constituency where in the north east it is related to housing costs in the Aylesbury area and in the south it is related to housing costs in the Reading area. These do not reflect the costs in South Oxfordshire which are acknowledged to be amongst the highest in the country.
Housing is fundamental and there is no doubt that there is a shortage. While there have been a number of initiatives to help people get on the housing ladder this is not what everyone wants and it remains difficult for many. The rental market is therefore important.
Local Housing Allowance is used to calculate the amount of assistance towards housing costs that an eligible claimant can receive to help pay their rent in the private rented sector. The rates are based on market rents paid in a geographical area. These are referred to as Broad Market Rental Areas and rates are determined by the Valuation Office Agency who seek to ensure that there is a fair rate for the area. The geography is such that the constituency is covered by three of these areas which I do not think accurately reflect the rental costs in South Oxfordshire.
While I recognise the work the Government has done to reform benefits and create a welfare system that supports the most vulnerable and is fair to taxpayers I am concerned at how this works here in relation to the cost of housing. I have written to the Chancellor to share my concerns on this.