The main proposal is to introduce a standard local housing allowance, varied by family size and location, for tenants in the private rented sector.
the measures aim to cut red tape and speed up the claims process
They are also designed to give tenants a choice about where they live.
The new allowance will be introduced in a number of pathfinder local authorities during 2003-04.
Working with councils, landlords and advice agencies, the department will evaluate the impact of the reforms and, depending on the results, may roll them out nationally.
Announcing the measures in parliament today, work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith said:
'Tenants who find a suitable home with a rent less than the standard allowance will be able to keep the difference. This puts the decision and responsibility in their hands.'
He added: 'Because they're simpler, standard local allowances will speed up the claims process, reducing the uncertainties people face as their circumstances change and make trying a job a more attractive option.'
* Andrew Smith's Statement
* Executive Summaryof Building choice and responsibility: a radical agenda for housing benefit