A firm reassurance that housing associations and other registered social landlords will continue to have a guaranteed revenue stream from their tenants has been offered to banks and other investors in social housing by Kitty Usher, the minister responsible for housing benefit.

The government, she said, had no intention of paying housing benefit directly to social housing tenants – with the tenant then responsible for paying the landlord – a move that some had feared could jeopardise the income stream of social landlords.

'We are not going to do that at this time,' she said. Her move is aimed at providing reassurance to the social rented sector and to banks and pension funds that lend to the sector.

Until recently, housing benefit was paid directly to landlords in both the private and social rented sectors. But in a move to encourage financial responsibility, and offer tenants the choice of paying more for larger, more attractive properties, councils have started paying housing benefit to the tenant. The tenant is then responsible for paying the private sector landlord.

Financial Times