Monday, 22 December 2014

Inside Housing proves Cameron rent claim wrong

A claim by the prime minister that private rents are falling as a result of welfare reforms was wrong, research by Inside Housing shows today.

Mr Cameron told parliament on 11 January that ‘rent levels have come down, so we have stopped ripping off the taxpayer’. Number 10 later said private landlords were reducing rents - lessening the impact of benefit cuts - in return for local housing allowance being paid directly to them.

But an Inside Housing survey using freedom of information requests of every English council shows Mr Cameron’s claim does not stack up. Of 204 authorities to respond, just 36 reported any rent reductions in return for direct payment of LHA.

Of those 36, the numbers of landlords in each council area to have reduced rents are miniscule. Twelve of the councils reported a combined total of 65 landlords reducing rents - an average of fewer than six each.

Jack Dromey, Labour’s shadow housing minister, will raise the matter in parliament demanding that Mr Cameron corrects his statement or justifies it.

He has already written to number 10 about the issue but received no response. Mr Dromey said: ‘Now we know the truth. The nationwide Inside Housing story exposes the reality of rising rents in most areas of the country and explodes the myth that rents are falling.’

A survey by estate agency LSL Property Services, cited previously by housing minister Grant Shapps as grounds for the claim, shows rents in December increased by 4 per cent year-on-year - despite a monthly drop.

The National Landlords Association and the Residential Landlords Association have each disputed the claim rents are falling and believe landlords are more likely to reduce the number of tenancies let to benefit recipients.

Since April 2011 new LHA ‘safeguards’ have allowed private landlords to receive benefit direct where the council ‘considers it will assist the customer in retaining a tenancy’ and the rent is ‘affordable to the tenant’.

The DWP said it is aware anecdotally of around 80 councils that have used the new safeguard and that the majority will use it to negotiate down rents in 2012 as LHA caps for existing claimants are phased in.

Number 10 declined to comment.

Readers' comments (23)

  • They'll find a way of denying there was any misleading or untruths.

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  • Arthur Brown

    I think you'll find it won't be the only thing he's got wrong either.

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  • F451

    Nail those Tory Lies - but they never end with their belief that if they say it then it will become true, no doubt spurred on by the massive success of their attempts to blame tenants and the poor for the financial crisis, social unrest, and cuts in services.

    Even yesterday the patronising man with no lips was telling the Scots that if the turned down the chance to determine their own freedom he would generously determine their freedom for them. Yet even that will be spun as if the next massiah had spoken.

    Cameron lied about rents, he lied about security of tenure, he lied about increasing the availability of housing - time to account for those lies.

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  • Eric Blair

    I can hardly believe that Mr Cameron has been economical with the truth! :-0

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  • In other news, the sky is blue, the sun is yellow and the pope is catholic

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  • The government have introduced Affordable Rent tenancies to the social housing sector which are up to 80% of market rents. Many of the applicants we are getting are claiming housing benefit. This means that rents have increased and the Housing Benefit bill will massively increase.

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  • Regrettably lost the little side bet I had with myself that F451 would be first to comment...3rd is not bad though

    As ever hoping to see measured debate, but as usual the usual nasty, bitter language of people with no viable alternatives

    I dont think Cameron blames the poor for the financial crisis etc...I think like me he blames 13 years of rotten rule by the deadly duo

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  • F451

    Mark - I was asleep at 4am, what can I say!

    If Cameron blames the past 13 years then he needs to blame the same policies that were in place for the 17 years before that also.

    Alternatives?

    Let the Scots have their vote - and let the English counties vote whether to go with Scotland or stay with Toryland madness.

    Stop waiting for 'the market' to make rents affordable and invoke the legislation to make it so - cutting the benefit bill over night and without and social distress to those with the lowest incomes.

    Stop waiting for the economy to heal itself and invest for growth, building the homes people need at a cost that they can afford, in balance with more gradual borrowing reductions.

    Three alternatives Mark - where are yours, or indeed any indication of a view of your won at all?

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  • Gavin Rider

    Housing1 - yes, the benefits bill will increase, and consequently your Housing Association will be receiving that extra government money as rent, which will be put to good use helping to provide more social housing.

    If this extra money were just being paid directly from the government to the Housing Association as extra grant subsidy nobody would be whingeing, but for some strange reason, because it is only being paid by the government if the tenant is on low income (otherwise the tenant will pay this extra rent himself) you and others are moaning about it.

    That makes little sense to me.

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  • Gavin Rider

    I am totally supportive of Inside housing in attacking Cameron over this deliberate "half truth" (although that phrase gives him more benefit than he deserves) which was designed to mislead Parliament.

    Any reduction in rent was directly due to negotiation between the local authority paying the housing benefit and the landlord concerned, it was not a market reaction to the changes to the benefit system Cameron was trying to defend. I believe that renders what he said a LIE, and lying in Parliament is serious so should be pursued strongly.

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