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Calls for housing benefit increase to tackle homelessness

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Homeless charities are calling on the government to end a freeze on housing benefits after new figures show that people on low incomes are priced out of 94% of properties in the private rented sector.

Calls for housing benefit increase to tackle homelessness

An analysis of property advertisements by the National Housing Federation found that families receiving housing benefit could only afford the rent on 7.5% of the 75,000 homes available in the sector.

Meanwhile, a poll of 4,000 people across the UK, conducted for Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that three quarters of people believe benefits should go up in line with rents, in an effort to prevent homelessness.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis, said: “A safe and stable home is fundamental to our dignity and humanity. But every day, we hear of people losing their homes as the constant pressure of rising living costs become impossible to bear.

“Housing benefit is an important tool and could be the quickest and most effective way to prevent homelessness in the short term, but it is fundamentally flawed because of severe under investment. Ending homelessness is truly within our capabilities and government must act now to deliver on its promises.”

In 2011 housing benefits were set at a level so people on low incomes could afford the cheapest 30% of privately rented homes in their area. Government austerity measures have meant that the current benefit, local housing allowance (LHA), has been frozen since 2016. Consequently, LHA has failed to keep pace with rents in many parts of the country.

Darren Baxter, housing policy and partnerships manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “A home should be an anchor against being swept into poverty but for many families the cost of renting a home is adding an extra strain.

“It does not have to be this way. We can ensure housing costs do not push households into poverty if we invest in building the low cost rented homes and, in the short term, invest in housing benefit so that it reflects the real costs of renting.”

Read more about this story on the Landlord Today website.

Neil Jennings

Neil is the Operations Director at Assetgrove Lettings, London's Leading Rent Guarantee Company, providing Landlords with no voids, property maintenance, fee-free property management and stress-free service.

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