TWO of Southall's biggest political heavyweights have come to blows again, this time over Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

Gurcharan Singh, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Ealing Southall, said Government changes to housing benefit rules are harming the most vulnerable and reducing the availability of affordable accommodation.

Mr Singh, who defected from Labour two years ago as councillor for Lady Margaret Ward in Southall said: "Labour’s new housing benefit rules are failing the most vulnerable in our society.

"Landlords are put off from renting to those on benefits, slashing the availability of decent places to live. Some tenants struggle to manage their finances, using up their benefit money by rent pay day. They get into arrears and trouble as a result.

“Tenants should have greater choice, and be free to specify that their housing benefit should go direct to the landlord. This will help those most in need.”

His arch-rival Virendra Sharma, Labour MP for Ealing Southall, said: "If my opponent was alert and up to date he would know that the Housing waiting list in Ealing is half what it was a year ago.

"That is not to say there is a serious local housing shortage and that an assessment of the causes of this shortage including the workings of the local housing allowance is needed.

“The LHA gives flexibility to tenants to negotiate with private landlords a level of rent below the agreed average and then receive the difference of up to £15 per week in their bank accounts without it affecting their other benefits. This flexibility helps some of the hardest pressed families add a little extra to their weekly income.

“The impact of the LHA on housing supply is not known in Ealing Southall and I would welcome a proper assessment. My political opponent offers little evidence for his claims and the figures he does offer about housing need are woefully out of date.”

“All are agreed that we need more affordable housing for the most vulnerable and I am always happy to look at how that can be achieved.”