This paper estimates the incidence of the most important UK rent subsidy, housing benefit (HB). It exploits changes to housing benefit in 1996 and 1997 that reduced the maximum subsidy payable. The research design is based on the fact that the changes only applied to new claimants and not to pre-existing claimants. We use difference-in-differences to estimate the size of the treatment effect. We show that the changes did have an effect on the level of housing subsidy with an estimated fall of 10–15% in benefit receipt in the treatment group relative to the control group. There is also evidence that rents paid fell by 6–11%. We find no evidence this can be explained by a fall in housing consumption by the treatment group. Our estimates imply that between 60% and two-thirds of the incidence of the subsidy reduction was on landlords
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