Examination of Witness

Part of Renters (Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14 November 2023.

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Francesca Albanese:

I might make a broader point first and then come back to that. At the moment, as you will all be aware, the local housing allowance does not meet rents. It has not done so for a long time, and it has been frozen since 2019. That decoupling of rents from local housing allowance levels is causing huge problems. We did some research six months ago—I would say the situation has probably got worse since then—that shows that only 4% of the market in England is affordable to people on local housing allowance. In some areas of the country, that drops to 1%, so it is a massive issue. That needs to happen now, and it is something that the Government can do now. They can give broader access to the private rental market. There is obviously a longer-term issue: we need more social housing. Where private rental sits within the broader housing market is really important.

On the point about discrimination, we do not want tenants to be discriminated against because they are in receipt of welfare benefits. Anything that prevents that is welcomed. The problem at the moment is that quite a lot of tenants are not getting anywhere near properties within the private rented sector. We are seeing record levels of people trapped in temporary accommodation and local authorities are very stretched. The point about the private rented sector is that quite a lot of people are not even getting access to it, let alone being discriminated against because of being on welfare benefits.

On the more specific point about tribunals, that is not my area of expertise, so I do not want to comment on something where I would be giving an opinion rather than factual evidence.