Jasmine Basran from Crisis, tells Homeless Link about Cover the Cost, Crisis' call on the Government to restore Local Housing Allowance rates -

No one should face the indignity of homelessness. Having a home is a moral right that many of us take for granted. But for too many people having a stable, affordable home is difficult and, in many cases, impossible.  

Losing a private tenancy is one of the most common causes of homelessness today. One of the main reasons behind this is that Universal Credit is not covering the cost of rent for people on low incomes.

Local Housing Allowance, which forms part of a household’s Universal Credit payment, was originally created to help people pay rent in the private rental market when they are struggling to make ends meet. So, for example, if they are stuck in low-paid work, or are unable to work from illness or having to take up caring responsibilities. Since 2011, the rates were meant to offer support to cover the cost of the cheapest third of private rents.

But cuts to Local Housing Allowance rates, including a four-year freeze since 2016, mean that the rates are falling far short of providing much-needed support. Crisis’ research with the Chartered Institute of Housing shows that last year, in 92 per cent of areas in Great Britain, just one fifth or less of privately rented homes were affordable within Local Housing Allowance rates for single people, couples, or families with one or two children.

This is putting people at risk of homelessness. Time and again, we see in our services how the current levels of Local Housing Allowance rates are leaving individuals and families locked in a struggle to pay their rent and still have enough left over money to feed their family and pay bills. In the worst cases, it is causing homelessness. And when homelessness does happen, Local Housing Allowance rates also prevent people from finding a home again as there are so few homes that are affordable within the rates. 

This has meant councils have had to use expensive, and sometimes unsuitable, temporary accommodation as they struggle to find privately rented homes for people trapped in homelessness. In England, councils are spending around £1 billion on temporary accommodation.

No one should have to live like this.

That’s why Crisis has launched our campaign, Cover the Cost, to call on the Government to restore Local Housing Allowance rates. We have a unique opportunity to make sure Local Housing Allowance rates are adequately funded and people get this much-needed support. The Government has committed to ending the freeze on the rates next year, and they must decide how much money to invest. Next month, the Government will announce a Spending Review which will set out spending priorities for the next year.

Solving this crisis in the long term means building more social homes. But building enough social homes will take time. Until then, people needing support from Local Housing Allowance rates can’t continue to bear the brunt.

Investing in Local Housing Allowance rates will give people immediate help to keep their privately rented home. It will also help people currently trapped in homelessness, like temporary accommodation without facilities to cook and clean, to move on and find a privately rented home.

What can you do to help?

We need to demonstrate public support to our politicians that this should be a top priority in the upcoming Spending Review. You can add your voice by signing up to support our #CoverTheCost campaign to secure people’s homes and prevent many more from becoming homeless.

We are also looking for frontline staff to share their experiences of supporting people to find accommodation within Local Housing Allowance rates, or people to share their story of the impact Local Housing Allowance rates are having on them. Please contact [email protected] if you would like to be involved.

See the article on the Homeless Link website