I am opposed to the government’s decision to freeze Local Housing Allowance rates and I am concerned about the impact this will have on residents in our constituency and across the country.
Housing charities, local authorities and social landlords have all raised their concerns that cuts to 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.
This is of particular concern given that 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 well over 120,000 children are without a home.
The housing charity, Shelter, has criticised the government’s proposals saying it undermines the commitment to reduce homelessness as local authorities may struggle to find rented properties that are affordable for anyone needing housing benefit.
In addition to freezing LHA rates, the government is also proposing to apply LHA rates to social rents, which charities, housing associations and councils all say will lead to the closure of vital housing for some of the most vulnerable people in our country.
At the recent General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised to halt these plans and work with the housing sector to bring forward a new plan to fund this vital housing adequately for the long-term. I am committed to abolishing the bedroom tax, reinstating Housing Benefit for under-21s which the government has cut, and changing the culture of our social security system so that it is supportive and enabling.
I will urge the government to abandon its proposed cap to LHA rates, undertake a review of the adequacy of support for housing costs, build more affordable homes to rent, and give more security to tenants.