Go back as many years as you want and social housing rents were historically kept low because it was good vote catcher. As a result, few tenants would be keen to move out of a council estate where they would pay double their usual rent to live under a private landlord. Many people of course would love to move away from a council estate and live elsewhere –but the rents charged by private landlords do not make that possible. And as far as I’m aware, housing benefit only meets a percentage of the cost of someone’s rent if they wanted to live under a private landlord, so again there is no incentive to move. Of course, as history has also shown, council estates have become a power keg for unrest and I dread to think what the social cost of crime is for council estates alone. So from a purely financial aspect it would have made sense to pay housing benefit that matches the rents private landlords charge to enable hard-pressed tenants to move elsewhere and live better lives if that’s what they want to do.