The RLA scored some big wins today – with a raft of welfare reforms backed by the association announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond.
While there is no denying many landlords felt they had been largely ignored by the chancellor – there were positives to be taken from some of today’s announcements.
The association has been campaigning for changes to the controversial Universal Credit system – giving evidence to a Government select committee on the flaws in the current rollout earlier this autumn.
The RLA called for the abolition of the seven-day waiting period, alongside other interested groups and politicians – and the chancellor listened – with a raft of changes planned to support UC claimants announced today.
These include moves to:
- allow those who need it and are entitled to it, access up to a month’s worth of Universal Credit within five days via an interest-free advance.
- extend the period of recovery from six months to twelve months, making it easier for claimants to manage their finances.
- allow those already on Housing Benefit to continue to receive their award for the first two weeks of their Universal Credit claim
- make it easier for claimants to have the housing element of their award paid directly to their landlord – an issue the RLA has been particularly vocal on.
Alongside the changes to Universal Credit came the announcement that the government will increase the Targeted Affordability Fund (TAF) by £125m over the next two years.
This fund redistributes a third of the money saved from the LHA freeze to the areas where the gap between the rate of benefit and local rents are highest and will put more money in the pockets of 140,000 people, helping them to keep their homes.
In addition to this there was the announcement of a £28 million investment to help rough sleepers in Manchester, Liverpool and the West Midlands and £20m to provide them with access and support to enter the private rented sector.
The RLA has supported housing charities Shelter and Crisis in campaigning for this funding — and has been thanked for its work by both charities in tweets following the budget announcement.
A new system to help first‑time buyers ensure their history of meeting rental payments on time is recognised in their credit scores and mortgage applications – a scheme championed by the RLA – also received government backing today.
The RLA’s work on plans to include rent payment history within credit scores was cited by a number of MPs during a Westminster Hall debate on the issue last month and the government will now launch a £2 million competition to support FinTech firms developing ways of enabling this to happen.
RLA Chairman Alan Ward said: “These are wins our members want. RLA Research has been invaluable in directing RLA discussions with the Treasury and the DWP.”
To find out more about how you and your lettings business might be affected by the announcements made in today’s budget click here.
To read the Red Book outlining the government’s proposals in more detail, click here.