Home Business News Lib Dems call for action as housing benefit gap leaves families £125 out of pocket a month

Lib Dems call for action as housing benefit gap leaves families £125 out of pocket a month

by LLB political Reporter
5th Aug 23 10:29 am

Analysis of the latest Valuation Office Agency figures by the Liberal Democrats has shown that the Local Housing Allowance benefit (LHA) being frozen by the Tories combining with soaring local rents will leave a family in a 2 bed flat in Southwark having to find an extra £125 for an equivalent property compared to 2020.

The LHA in Southwark is calculated by looking at the cheapest 30th percentile property rent in the Inner South East London area, and awarding that as a housing benefit. The Tories have frozen that benefit in cash terms at 2020 levels.

In practice, this means that a family that could cover rent with the LHA in 2020 would now have to find an extra £125 a month to rent an equivalent property. A whopping 12% more homes in the Inner South East London area now fall above what some authorities would describe as affordable.

With the BBC reporting a 14.3% increase in rents in the last year alone in Southwark and the ONS recording the highest yearly increase on record in London, the affordability crisis has never been more acute.

The homelessness charity Crisis has warned that this gap is forcing many into “impossible situations”, and that the benefits cap can leave some with an even larger shortfall. Indeed the latest official homelessness statistics show a 10% increase of people in temporary accommodation in Southwark, and the number of households on the housing waiting list in Southwark has continued to climb to over 17,500.

Recent reports showed that 1 in 50 in London are now homeless, including 83,000 children in temporary accommodation.

Liberal Democrat Deputy Group Leader and Bermondsey and Old Southwark PPC Cllr Rachel Bentley said, “The housing crisis in Southwark has never been more acute, and these figures show just how dire the situation is for those in the most desperate of circumstances.

“This represents a twin failure of both the Tories to recognise the reality of the situation, and of Southwark Council to tackle the affordability crisis locally.

“The affordability gap hurts residents who are struggling to make ends meet, but also results in higher costs for the council in terms of discretionary housing payments and temporary accommodation.

“The Conservatives need to raise the allowance in line with rents in the real world, and Southwark Labour needs to translate its unfunded promises around housebuilding into spades in the ground.”

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