Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Capital’s boroughs prepare for lack of affordable private rented homes

Councils to move LHA claimants out of London

Councils in London are arranging to move local housing allowance claimants into accommodation as far away as Hastings, following cuts to housing benefit confirmed in the comprehensive spending review.

What's the benefit logo

London Councils revealed this week at a meeting of the work and pensions select committee that local authorities in central London have been block-booking private rented accommodation and bed and breakfast rooms in towns across the south of England.

The cuts to housing benefit, first announced in June’s emergency Budget, are predicted to hit private tenants in London hardest when they come into effect in April 2011. They include a cap on the amount of housing benefit payable per bedroom, and a move to calculating LHA based on the 30th percentile of rents in an area.

Nigel Minto, head of sustainable communities at London Councils, said: ‘Some central London boroughs have been doing block bookings in outer London because they know that they will not have the accommodation in the private sector.’

Mr Minto said the boroughs were booking rooms in towns such as Hastings, Watford, Slough, Reading and Luton because the rents in those areas are much lower than the average rates charged by central London landlords.

He said the councils were also starting to view bed and breakfast accommodation - normally used for short emergency stays - as a longer term solution to households presenting as homeless in their areas.

Families with children would be forced to remove them from school, and those claiming housing benefit as an in-work benefit would lose their jobs as a result of moving so far away, Mr Minto warned.

Research by London Councils has also found that landlords would not drop their rents if their tenants’ housing benefit is cut.

Alex Fenton, research associate at the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, said he thought it was unlikely that rents in expensive inner-city areas would drop as a result of the cuts to housing benefit payments.

Inside Housing’s What’s the Benefit? campaign calls for fairer reforms to housing benefit. A petition expressing concerns about the government’s reforms had reached 1,418 signatures at the time of going to press

Readers' comments (35)

Comments are only open to subscribers of Inside Housing

Already a subscriber?

If you’re already a subscriber to Inside Housing, your subscription may not be linked to your online account. You can link your subscription from within the My Account section of the website and clicking on Link My Account.

Not yet a subscriber?

If you don't yet subscribe to Inside Housing, please visit our subscription page to view our various subscription packages.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up



  • CIH: Low LHA rates lock out claimants

    13 May 2016

    Housing benefit rates paid to claimants renting privately have fallen well below actual market rents - leaving claimants with no access to housing.

  • Freud promises to 'sort out LHA cap'

    28 January 2016

    Lord David Freud has said the government will “urgently” act to make sure protections are in place for supported housing tenants from a benefit cut but refused to say what form this could take.

  • 'LHA cap' to be debated in parliament

    27 January 2016

    MPs are preparing to clash today over the impact of a planned housing benefit cap on specialist housing.

  • Call for London LHA freeze exemption

    28 October 2015

    Umbrella organisation London Councils is calling on the government to exempt renters in the capital from a freeze to Local Housing Allowance rates.

  • Councils strike deal on out-of-London homeless moves

    26 October 2015

    London boroughs are set to agree on fixed maximum sums for incentivising private landlords outside the capital to let to homeless families, in response to council concerns.

IH Subscription