Wednesday, 07 October 2015

Cameron rent claim attacked by sector

The prime minister’s claim that rents have been reduced as a result of his government’s welfare reforms has been disputed by sector figures.

David Cameron was asked a question by Labour MP Joan Ruddock at prime minister’s questions today about plans to increase the age limit for the shared accommodation rate, which is based on the amount of rent for single room in a shared house, from 25 to 35 years.  

Mr Cameron said: ‘What we have seen so far, as housing benefit has been reformed and reduced, is that rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer.’

The claim that rents have fallen was immediately questioned by figures in the social housing sector. Abigail Davies, assistant director of policy and practice at the Chartered Institute of Housing, tweeted: ‘I’m wondering what data David Cameron is using to support his claim that rents have fallen due to housing benefit reform.’

The CIH has used National Valuation Office Agency data to calculate that local housing allowance rates have increased or stayed the same since March 2011 in 853 out of 960 local authority areas in the UK.  LHA rates are based on market rents.

Department for Work and Pensions data does show a fall in average local housing allowance awards, from £114.07 last March to £112.01, but Ms Davies said this is not the same as rent, it merely means less is being claimed.

Mr Cameron’s claim that housing benefit has been reduced has also been disputed.

Joe Halewood, housing consultant, said: ‘The facts prove Cameron has misled parliament with this statement.’

Mr Halewood pointed to DWP statistics showing that housing benefit claims have increased by 182,580 since May 2010, adding £1.5 billion to the benefit bill.

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