Local Housing Allowance

Thank you to those who recently contacted me about Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the related campaign by Shelter.

I am opposed to the Government's decision to freeze LHA rates and I am concerned about the effect that this will have on residents both in our constituency and across the country. 

Housing charities, local authorities and social landlords all raised their concerns that freezing LHA rates will result in shortfalls between rent levels and claimants' entitlement to housing support. This could, in turn, result in rent arrears and increase the risk of homelessness for affected tenants. 

Ahead of the Autumn Budget, the Local Government Association (LGA) joined Shelter in calling on the Chancellor to lift the LHA freeze. A recent LGA survey found that 96% of councils are concerned that homelessness will increase as a result of the freeze. A further 94% of councils have said they believe it will be more difficult to meet the requirements of the new Homelessness Reduction Act. 

In the last six years the number of people sleeping rough on our streets has more than doubled, the number of homeless households has risen by almost half to nearly 60,000 and this year over 120,000 children are without a home. 

I am disappointed that the Chancellor did not use the Autumn Budget as an opportunity to end the freeze on LHA, despite some increases in Targeted Affordability Funding. There was no extra Government investment in new affordable homes and no action to help private renters with soaring costs. 

Following pressure from the Labour Opposition and housing charities, the Government has now dropped its plans to apply the LHA levels to social rent. However, funding changes that are due to take effect in April 2020 still risk closing supported housing schemes so I will continue to urge the Government to think again and protect this vital accommodation.

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