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Nine out of every 10 homes for rent are too expensive for families on housing benefit or the equivalent, Local Housing Allowance – according to the National Housing Federation.

The report finds that 94 per cent of private rental properties are unaffordable for families on Housing Benefit, or the equivalent Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

It also found that 65 per cent of the families affected are in work – proving once again that the Tory mantra that “work is the best way out of poverty” is utter claptrap while they remain in office.

LHA was initially designed to cover the bottom 50 per cent of market rents – in any area. This was reduced to 30 per cent in 2011, after the Tory-led Coalition government came into power (with help from the Liberal Democrats). Rates were divorced from market rents altogether in 2013, and frozen in 2016.

One can only conclude that this was done to price benefit-dependent families out of the market. In the least-affordable parts of the UK – southern and eastern England – only one per cent of privately-rented properties are affordable to those on LHA.

Analysis of data on private rental listings found that:

  • Only 7.54% of rental properties advertised in England are affordable to LHA claimants.
  • “Family-sized” properties, i.e. those with two or more bedrooms, are even less affordable, with only 6.5% being affordable at the relevant LHA rate.
  • Southern and Eastern parts of England are the least affordable areas.
  • In 2011, LHA was set to the 30th percentile of rents within Broad Rental Market Areas, meaning that claimants should have been able to afford 30% of the rental market in each BRMA. In 2019, the median percentage of the rental market that is affordable within a BRMA is only 5.9%.
  • Only 2.75% of rooms within shared accommodation are affordable at LHA. The shared accommodation rate is usually the only LHA rate that single people aged under 35 may claim.

The National Housing Federation has drawn the obvious conclusion – that Tory policies have pushed homelessness to record levels – and are pushing children into overcrowded and poor quality accommodation, like shipping containers and converted office blocks.

The organisation is demanding that the government LHA payments to cover at least the lowest-costing 30 per cent of privately-rented homes again. It also wants a £12.8 billion annual investment in building new social housing.

I think we all know what’s likely to happen about that: Nothing.

You can read the full briefing here.

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