London hosts are calling for Universal Credit changes

16:29 April 29, 2022

Landlords have called on the government to increase benefits and tie them to local rents to ensure tenants can afford it.

According to analysis of official data by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), 40.4% of private tenants who depend on Universal Credit to pay for their housing are in short supply each month.

The NRLA found that those tenants are on average £162 short each month.

While the government increased the share of local housing benefits (LHR) in April 2020 to help the bottom 30% of private renters during the pandemic, the rate has been frozen since April last year.

In Camden, 38.2% of Universal Credit recipients with an LHA have a monthly average gap of £143 in the benefits they receive and the rent they pay, with comparable figures in Barnet (42.7%, £160) , Haringey (39.2%, £159), Islington (34%, £128), Hackney (36.7%, £110), Brent (35.2%, £150) and Westminster (48.3%, £166).

The NRLA says that families with two children are more likely to be affected and that the link between local rent levels and government housing benefits has been broken.

The link between rent and benefits is “broken”
– Credit: André Langlois

NRLA spokesman Richard Blanco said: “It cannot be true that the housing allowance does not reflect the reality of current rent levels.

“The freeze is only exacerbating the already serious cost of living for tenants across the region.

“The Chancellor must listen to and respond to the concerns of both tenants and landlords by releasing the housing allowance urgently.”

With the current LHA rate, the number of homes that private renters receiving Universal Credit can afford will steadily decline, despite rents in London rising less than inflation, the NRLA said.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “During the pandemic we have significantly increased local housing allowance and beyond inflation, benefiting more than a million households by an average of more than £600 over the year.

“We are maintaining that boost and keeping support for private tenants above pre-pandemic levels.”

The NRLA is the largest representative organization of private landlords in the UK, with over 95,000 members.

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