Research Briefing: A Postcode Lottery?

By: Liam Reynolds  Published: January 2009

Shelter is undertaking a study throughout 2009 to monitor the implementation of the local housing allowance (LHA) scheme. This briefing – the first in a series documenting the findings of the study – reveals wide variations in the affordability of private rented housing for LHA claimants.


Using a sample of more than 1,500 advertisements for private rented homes in four Broad Rental Market Areas (BRMAs) in England, the study indicates that LHA claimants are subject to a ‘postcode lottery’. The use of larger BRMAs to set the level of LHA in different areas has resulted in less equitable outcomes for claimants. The median rent in these larger areas does not offer a fair reflection of the extremes of the range of rents within those areas.

These findings show that the BRMA boundaries used for setting LHA are working contrary both to the aims of housing benefit reform and to wider government initiatives, such as creating mixed communities and maximising employment and training incentives for benefit claimants.


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