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Local Housing Allowance

Discrepancy between housing benefit and rent is trapping people in poverty

2020 - a new year - and more pledges from the government to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

The government has announced it’s lifting a four-year freeze on the amount of housing benefit private renters can claim.

From 1 April, these benefits – known as Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – will rise in line with inflation. But that only amounts to £10 extra a month for the average person.

It’s simply not enough to help people who are already struggling to make ends meet.

LHA rates were originally designed to cover the cheapest 30% of homes in any given area.

But over the years there have been a series of cuts to the rates, including the four-year freeze. The cost of renting has continued to rise and now, the amount that people will be able to claim is far below the true cost of housing.

A desperate struggle

Every year, Porchlight supports thousands of people on low incomes who are struggling to pay rent and cover basic living expenses. They face a desperate struggle to provide for their families and keep a roof over their heads.

The discrepancy between housing benefit and the cost of renting a home is putting people at risk of homelessness.

It’s also preventing people we support from moving out of a Porchlight property to an affordable place of their own. As a result, we have fewer bed spaces for people who are still on the streets.

If the government is committed to ending homelessness, it needs to invest in housing benefit that covers the true cost of rent. Without this investment, even more people will be trapped in poverty, facing the threat of homelessness or unable to escape it.

This blog comes from Mike Barrett, Porchlight chief executive