The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has called for the Chancellor to end the housing benefit freeze and help the growing numbers of tenants who are struggling to pay rent.
A new YouGov poll of more than 1,000 private landlords across England and Wales found that of those who were either currently letting to a Universal Credit claimant, or who had done so last year, 9% had at least one tenant experiencing difficulties as a result of the £20 a week cut, following a temporary increase in response to the pandemic.
Gap in support
The NRLA points to government figures showing how 1,431,040 households in the private rented sector were receiving Universal Credit last August, with housing cost support (Local Housing Allowance) included in the payment. Of these, 788,832 (55%) had a gap between the support they received and their rent payments. It warns that this will only get worse as a result of the government’s decision last year to freeze in cash terms housing cost support and predicts that as a result, the level of benefit support available will be able to cover the rent on ever fewer properties.
As many households face a cost-of-living crisis, the NRLA argues that a benefits system which properly supports tenants is of critical importance; it wants the government to reverse its damaging decision to freeze the Local Housing Allowance rate and ensure it properly reflects market rents.
NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle says it’s a broken system in desperate need of reform. “With households facing a cost-of-living squeeze, it is vital that the benefits system gives the protection that tenants deserve,” says Beadle. “That is why the Chancellor needs to end the housing benefit freeze as a matter of urgency. Without this, many tenants and landlords face an uncertain future about how to keep tenancies going.”