Housing benefit warning

22 June 2010

george osborne

George Osborne's budget announcements on housing benefit could push households over the edge, Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb has warned.

Worried about the changes to housing benefit and local housing allowance (LHA)? Get advice about housing benefit and LHA

Responding to the Government's planned reduction in LHA rates, Mr Robb said:

‘Shelter has been calling for housing benefit reform for years, but this debate must not be muddied by the use of an extreme example from one area in the country.1

‘The vast majority of housing benefit claimants are either pensioners, disabled people, those caring for a relative or hardworking people on low incomes, and only 1 in 8 people who receive housing benefit is unemployed.2

‘We are really concerned that even at current levels, nearly half of local housing allowance claimants are already making up a shortfall of almost £100 a month to meet their rent.3 If this support is ripped out suddenly from under their feet it will push many households over the edge, triggering a spiral of debt, eviction and homelessness.

‘The underlying issue which this budget has failed to address is the critical shortage of affordable housing, which means more and more people are being housed in the private rented sector where rents are almost double those in social housing.

‘If we are to reduce the housing benefit bill in the long term we must continue to build more affordable housing.’

1 £104,000 is the current rate for a 5 bedroom property in Central London BRMA. An example of the households eligible for this amount would be a family of two adults living with an elderly relative and six children under the age of 16 (if paired with same sex over 10).

2 Survey of English Housing 2007/08.

3 Parliamentary question 5 March 2010.