8:05 AM, 1st November 2022, About 11 months ago 5
Just 11% of one-bedroom properties in England are now affordable to renters on Local Housing Allowance – that’s down from 17% in April, research reveals.
That’s when Crisis and Zoopla last conducted their analysis which also reveals that the proportion of affordable two-bedroom properties has fallen to just 7% from 11%.
For three-beds, just 6% of rental properties are affordable – down from 10% earlier this year.
The figures, the charity says, represent an increasingly desperate situation in which people receiving housing benefit are being priced out of the rental market and are at real risk of homelessness.
This is extremely concerning, they say, since one in three private renters are reliant on housing benefit to cover the cost of their rent.
London saw the most drastic fall, with affordability almost halving in the five months to September.
The proportion of properties in the capital now available under Local Housing Allowance stands at 13%, 10%, and 11% for one-, two-, and three-bedroom properties respectively.
In some boroughs, the picture is worse still with tenants in Hammersmith and Fulham seeing a decline in one-beds from 12% to 5%.
The situation is similarly bleak across the country with renters in the North-East, the region with the highest proportion of one-bed properties available, has just a quarter of one-beds being affordable.
The widening gap between housing benefit rates and the true cost of rents mean that thousands are being pushed to the absolute limit on budgets that are already at breaking point.
Previously, Crisis and Zoopla’s analysis of rising rents in the year up to April showed that shortfalls were more than double what the most recent Government figures, published this January, suggested.
Now, this new research shows that these shortfalls are between three and four times higher than the Government figures.
That means that low-income renters are being forced to find on average an additional £935 a year for a one-bed, £1,477 for a two-bed and £2,285 for a three-bed a year compared to Government figures of £313, £371 and £498, respectively.
Housing benefit has been frozen since early 2020 and is based on rents from 2018-19.
With rents rising at their fastest rate in 16 years and inflation soaring, Crisis is urging the Government to act urgently and commit to increasing housing benefit in line with inflation in the upcoming Autumn Budget on November 17.
Matt Downie, Crisis’ chief executive, said: “Current housing benefit levels are woefully behind rents, leaving people on the lowest incomes with drastically fewer options of finding a home.
“Homelessness is becoming a very worrying, and real prospect for families up and down the country.
“What’s more, housing benefit isn’t included in the Government’s commitment to uprate benefits – which we’re still yet to see if they will deliver on.”
He added: “Despite being most people’s biggest expense, these colossal rents are being ignored.
“The fact that affordability has deteriorated so drastically in just five months shows the pressing need for benefits to increase in line with real world costs – and just how punishing it is to freeze Local Housing Allowance rates for even a short period of time.”
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