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Local Housing Allowance – when is a freeze not a freeze?

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

This year is the first year of the Government’s freeze on Local Housing Allowance – the flat rate allowance paid to those who are claiming benefits.
However a closer look at the figures for 2016/17, released this week shows that in 13 areas of the country the amount being paid to claimants renting a room is actually down on last year’s figures.

This year is the first year of the Government’s freeze on Local Housing Allowance – the flat rate allowance paid to those who are claiming benefits.
However a closer look at the figures for 2016/17, released this week shows that in 13 areas of the country the amount being paid to claimants renting a room is actually down on last year’s figures.
In the Summer Budget 2015 the Chancellor announced that LHA rates would be frozen from 2016/17 to 2019/20 or would be set at the 30th percentile point for local market rents, if this was lower.
This freeze also applies where housing costs are paid through Universal Credit.
According to the new 2016/17 figures the biggest change will be seen in Sheffield, where the amount being paid to a claimant renting a room has fallen by £2 a week.
The RLA has now written to the Department for Work and Pensions asking whether – should local rents rise again in these areas – the LHA will increase to reflect that, or remain frozen at the lower 2016/17 figure.
Richard Jones, policy adviser and RLA company secretary said: “Freezing LHA rates, or even reducing them, when rents are rising due to the shortage of rental accommodation and increasing regulatory costs for landlords is most concerning for landlords who are prepared to accommodate benefit claimants. It is highly likely that fewer and fewer landlords will be willing to do so.
“The situation is not helped by the way in which Universal Credit will operate as it takes over from LHA.”
LHA rates are updated and come into effect from April each year.
For the 2015-16 LHA Rates please click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Communications Manager for the RLA and award-winning Editor of RPI magazine. With 16 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and editorial content for our media partners.

She issues press releases promoting the work of the RLA and its policies and campaigns to the regional and national media and works alongside the marketing team on the association’s social media channels to build support for the RLA and its work.

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