November 24

Shelter Urges Prompt Local Housing Allowance Rise


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Campaigning charity Shelter applauds Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s recent decision to lift the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA). However, Shelter emphasizes the urgency of implementing this change immediately rather than waiting until next spring. In the Autumn Statement, Hunt committed to raising LHA to the 30th percentile of local market rents, a demand echoed by numerous landlord and lettings agency groups.

This adjustment is anticipated to benefit around 1.6 million households currently renting in both the private and social housing sectors. Chancellor Hunt asserts that this increase equates to £800 per year for each household receiving LHA. Shelter sees this move as a positive step toward addressing housing challenges, but the charity emphasizes the pressing need for timely execution to alleviate the financial burdens faced by many households.

Shelter acknowledges the potential positive impact of the proposed increase in LHA, emphasizing its significance in supporting families struggling with housing costs. The charity contends that swift implementation of this policy change will ensure immediate relief for vulnerable households, aligning with Shelter’s commitment to advocating for prompt and effective solutions to housing issues.

Shelter’s CEO, Polly Neate, acknowledges the positive impact of the Autumn Statement on the 1.7 million private renters in England dependent on housing benefit. The decision to unfreeze housing benefit for the bottom third of local rents is seen as a crucial lifeline to prevent homelessness and maintain housing stability. However, Neate expresses concern about the timing, stating that delaying the implementation until April 2024 leaves many families in uncertainty during the winter, with the looming threat of homelessness and the prospect of spending Christmas in subpar temporary accommodations.

Neate emphasizes that while the move is a significant relief, the current record-high homelessness rates demand urgent and immediate action. The charity calls for a swifter implementation to address the pressing needs of vulnerable families facing the harsh winter conditions. By advancing the changes to housing benefit sooner, the government can provide more immediate support to those at risk, ensuring a more stable and secure living situation for countless households.

Shelter continues to advocate for comprehensive and timely solutions to the housing crisis, emphasizing that addressing these issues promptly is essential for safeguarding individuals and families from the hardships associated with insecure housing and homelessness. The charity urges policymakers to prioritize the well-being of vulnerable renters and implement measures promptly to alleviate the challenges they face, particularly during the challenging winter months.

“We welcome the Chancellor’s decision as a crucial step to curb the escalating homelessness crisis. However, we strongly urge the government to expedite this process and lift the freeze on housing benefit without delay.”

According to Neate’s charity, a significant portion of private renting households in England, accounting for one in three, relies on housing benefit to cover rent expenses. Additionally, approximately 900,000 private renters in England, who receive housing benefit, face a shortfall between their rental costs and the assistance provided.

The charity underscores the severity of the housing crisis, pointing out that the number of households in temporary accommodation in England has reached an unprecedented high, with 104,000 households currently affected. This figure represents nearly twice the number recorded a decade ago, highlighting the urgent need for immediate action to address the growing challenges in the housing sector.

Ben Twomey, the chief executive of Generation Rent, acknowledged the positive impact of the LHA change on private tenants relying on benefits. However, he highlighted that not all renters would benefit, particularly families affected by the benefit cap, who won’t receive additional support. Additionally, tenants in need of new accommodation may still struggle with the current market rents, which have outpaced even the updated LHA rates.

Twomey emphasized that renters facing eviction could find themselves seeking homelessness support from local councils. He called for more decisive government action to reduce eviction rates, increase housing development in desirable locations, and ensure that Local Housing Allowance remains in step with rising rents instead of facing repeated freezes.



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Autumn Statement UK, Local Housing Allowance, Shelter Org

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