We are in the midst of a housing crisis.
More genuinely affordable homes need to be built and local housing allowance rates must be raised.
Constituents are contacting me about Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the related campaign by the housing and homelessness charity Crisis.
I do not believe the Government’s decision to freeze LHA rates was right and I am concerned about the effect that this freeze has had on residents in our constituency and across the country. I firmly believe that the LHA rate should be increased in line with the 30th percentile of local rents.
Research published by Crisis finds that cuts to housing benefit means that, in 94% of areas across the UK, less than 20% of private rented homes are affordable for young single people, couples, or small families who rely on housing benefit. Crisis has warned that people who are in low-paid work are becoming homeless, or are at risk, as a result of cuts to LHA. Many councils are being forced to use expensive temporary accommodation due to a lack of affordable housing options.
Housing charities, local authorities and social landlords all raised their concerns that freezing LHA rates would result in shortfalls between rent levels and claimants’ entitlement to housing support, resulting in rent arrears and increasing the risk of homelessness for affected tenants.
Until social housing can meet demand, I believe people on low incomes deserve secure, decent living conditions with affordable rents. Alongside raising the LHA rate, I support a new definition of affordable housing that is linked to local income. I am also committed to addressing the shortage in social housing by ending the Right to Buy.
I will work with my Labour Parliamentary colleagues to press Boris Johnsons Tory Government to raise LHA rates in line with the 30th percentile of local rents and build one million genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy to give those on low incomes more options for a place to stay. I believe councils and housing associations should be backed with new funding, powers and flexibilities to ensure they can build at scale.