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Welfare Reform Act (Northern Ireland) 2007

Section 35: Payment of housing benefit

Currently under section 126 of the Administration Act, and the housing benefit rules, housing benefit in the social sector must take the form of a rent rebate where the Housing Executive is the landlord. In other cases, it must take the form of a rent allowance. Both rent rebates and rent allowances can be paid by way of rebate to, or by payment to, the claimant (which includes someone on his behalf), or by a combination of rebate and payment. Where the Housing Executive is the landlord it has an effective choice as to the manner of payment. Where the Housing Executive is not the landlord it cannot rebate the claimant’s rent account and has to pay the claimant or someone on his behalf (such as a landlord, or a third party). Regulations set out the circumstances in which payment must or may be made to someone other than the claimant.

Section 35 replaces section 126(2) of the Administration Act with new subsections (2), (2A) and (2B) to allow for regulations to be made specifying the manner in which payment must be made. This would, for example, enable secondary legislation to prescribe when payment is to be made directly to the claimant, or to someone on his behalf or in respect of the liability the claimant has; or by rebating the claimant’s rent account; or by a combination of these methods. This will ensure that the Department could ensure that payments were made to claimants, even where the Housing Executive was the landlord.

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Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

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