Living with the LHA: claimants’ experiences after fifteen months of the LHA in the nine Pathfinder Areas

As part of its reform of Housing Benefit, the Government has introduced, in selected local authority areas, a Local Housing Allowance (LHA). This is payable to low income tenants in the private rented sector. The overall aim of LHA is to empower tenants by giving them more choice over, and responsibility for, their housing decisions. Associated with this, LHA aims to promote fairness, transparency and simplicity and to increase work incentives. The Department for Work and Pensions has commissioned an evaluation of LHA in nine local authorities, or Pathfinder areas. The evaluation design includes surveys which track claimants on LHA over a period of two years after its introduction in each Pathfinder area. This report presents findings from administrative data, the survey baseline and the first two waves of interviews with claimants, and covers the period up to fifteen months after the start of LHA in each Pathfinder area. The report draws on contributions by researchers from the Centre for Research in Social Policy and the National Centre for Social Research as well as analysts from the Department for Work and Pensions. The survey data compares the nine Pathfinder areas with the three Control areas. The DWP administrative data compares the nine Pathfinder areas with the three Control areas and a further six areas. These nine areas (the three Control areas and six additional areas) are referred to as Comparator areas.