Housing benefit freeze leaving poorest private renters with shortfall of up to £140 a week
'Low-income tenants in the private rented sector face a “heat, eat or pay rent” problem because housing benefit rates have failed to keep up with the soaring cost of accommodation, a study has found.
The four-year freeze on local housing allowance levels, which has been in place since April 2016, means some families must meet a shortfall of hundreds of pounds a month on their rent support, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH).
It said the ongoing housing benefit freeze meant even the lowest private rents were out of reach for many low-income families in most areas – making it more likely that tenants would be forced to choose between living necessities or paying the rent.
“Our research makes it clear just how far housing benefit for private renters has failed to keep pace with even the cheapest private rents. We fear this policy is putting thousands of private renters on low incomes at risk of poverty and homelessness,” said the CIH’s chief executive, Terrie Alafat.
The biggest “rent gaps” – the difference between rent and housing support levels in the cheapest third of rented properties in a local housing market area – were in London, where the median shortfall was £66 a week for a four-bedroom property and £43 for a two-bedroom, although this masked larger gaps of more than £140 a week in the inner city – adding up to more than £600 a month.'
Read more: Low-income tenants face 'heat, eat or pay rent' choices