Brighton and Hove will be a test-bed for a huge reform of housing benefit.

Work and pensions minister Andrew Smith said the reforms, the biggest in the history of housing benefit, would give more power to tenants and improve job prospects.

The new Local Housing Allowance will start operating in Brighton and Hove in February, along with Edinburgh, North East Lincolnshire, Conwy and Leeds.

Similar trials, all for two years, of the new rules will start operating at four other councils this autumn.

Mr Smith said private tenants would receive a locally-set housing benefit, which took account of income and family size.

Landlords and tenants will know in advance how much they will receive and tenants will be able to move to a cheaper home and keep the difference.

Mr Smith said the reforms would remove one of the barriers to people getting back to work, by cutting claim times and removing uncertainty.

He said: "For years people have been calling for reform. Now we are testing a system which will put real choice and responsibility in the hands of tenants."

Pavilion MP David Lepper said the new system should tackle the main problem many people in high-cost areas have, where the level of benefit does not cover their rent.

He said: "I think it is going to be a real test of whether this new system will work for the benefit of tenants. I think it will."

The new Local Housing Allowance is due to be introduced nationally after being trialled by the pathfinder authorities.