Local authorities continue to play an important role in managing the impacts of welfare reform in their communities, including the rollout of the Universal Credit (UC) Full Service. It is therefore crucial that councils’ concerns about the effect of the rollout of UC on residents and services are listened to by the Government.
- Local authorities continue to play an important role in managing the impacts of welfare reform in their communities, including the rollout of the Universal Credit (UC) Full Service. It is therefore crucial that councils’ concerns about the effect of the rollout of UC on residents and services are listened to by the Government.
- The reforms to housing-related benefits, including through UC, are contributing to a growing gap between living costs and affordability. Independent research for the LGA found that private rent price growth to 2020 will have had a substantial effect on households’ average income.
- Recent evidence suggests that people in receipt of UC are less likely to be offered privately-rented accommodation. The National Landlords Association found that only one in five landlords are willing to let their property to UC recipients.ii This places further pressure on the social housing sector and makes it difficult for councils to discharge their statutory housing responsibilities.
- Rising private sector rents and changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate, without a corresponding increase in housing support, means that the number of households that turn to local government for support will increase. An example of this is the marked increase in homelessness acceptances in recent years.
- The £40 million uplift in the Targeted Affordability Fund announced in the 2017 Autumn Budget to support claimants in areas where private rents are rising fastest, is a welcome recognition of our call for lifting the LHA freeze.iv However, it does not fully address the chronic and growing crisis of housing affordability in the private rented sector.
- Claimants will be more likely to sustain a tenancy if they have access to good financial support, and effective alternatives to high-cost credit. The LGA is working with the Centre for Responsible Credit to look at how the Government, councils, housing providers, voluntary organisations and the financial services sector might work together more effectively to ‘reshape financial support’.