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End the Housing Benefit freeze

Keeping housing benefit frozen during a cost-of-living crisis is forcing people into homelessness. This is simply unacceptable.

All of us should have a safe, decent home we can afford. But spiralling rents and the cost-of-living crisis are making it impossible for people to afford their rent, to heat their homes and to eat.

But while rents are increasing at their fastest rate in 16 years, housing benefit has remained frozen since 2020, meaning thousands more now struggle to pay their rent.

Our research shows that, if nothing changes, over 300,000 individuals and families across Great Britain could be forced into the worst forms homelessness in 2023, including sleeping on the streets, sofa surfing, and living in temporary accommodation such as hostels and B&Bs.

Keeping housing benefit frozen is forcing people into homelessness. This is simply unacceptable.

Why is housing benefit important?

Local Housing Allowance (LHA), also known as housing benefit, is the amount of Universal Credit people receive to cover private rents.

It is a lifeline that helps millions of people keep the vital foundation of a safe, decent home by helping them pay their rent.

During the pandemic, housing benefit levels were raised to cover the cheapest third of rents in an area.

But it has been frozen since 2020. Meanwhile, rents have sky-rocketed, leaving a growing number of people with a shortfall between their housing benefit and the cost of their rent.

Our latest research has found that the cost of rent, food and utilities for the lowest income private renters exceeds their income by 43%.

For many, this additional financial pressure is too much, and they are pushed into homelessness.

Without action from the UK government, more and more people will be pushed to the brink and into homelessness. This is unacceptable.

Patti's story

Patti is 60 and works in hospitality. Her landlord increased her rent, but she couldn't afford it so had to leave. She became homeless for some weeks, sofa-surfing and sleeping in her car.

While she is now back in part-time work and has a flat, her living costs are not sustainable.

"It's always a worry because I don't have a budget for food, because I am not earning enough. If I am earning, whether it's partly Universal Credit or partly wages, I don't get any more than £1100.

So by paying £900 out for rent... and then another couple of hundred pound out for [council tax and water], I am already on £1100 before I've paid gas and electric, food bill, petrol, and so you are always working behind.

What is the change we want to see?

We're calling for housing benefit to be increased to again cover the cheapest third of rents in an area. This level is adequate to help protect the poorest households from being forced into homelessness.

In the spring budget 2023, the UK Government decided to maintain the freeze on housing benefit, missing a crucial opportunity to pull thousands of struggling renters back from the brink of homelessness.

The Government must urgently reconsider their approach and uprate housing benefit in line with rents otherwise we will see thousands more people forced out of their homes with nowhere to go.

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