Local Housing Allowance and Homelessness — [Mr Adrian Bailey in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 24th July 2019.

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Photo of Virendra Sharma Virendra Sharma Labour, Ealing, Southall 9:30 am, 24th July 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered local housing allowance and homelessness.

It is a pleasure to speak under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey. I am raising this issue because our constituents are in pain. A series of cuts, including the freeze in local housing allowance rates since 2016, has led to an increasing number of people across the country struggling to keep a roof over their heads. In the worst cases that is leading to homelessness and rough sleeping. The last 10 years of Tory rule have given us rising levels of homelessness in England. Rough sleeping alone has more than doubled in that time and in London in the last year it increased by 18%. The number of people in temporary accommodation has also increased. At the end of last year there were 83,700 individuals and families living in temporary accommodation, which is a 74% increase since 2010. It is unacceptable and we cannot allow it to continue. We must reverse it. We must look at the availability and affordability of housing.

Local housing allowance rates relate to housing benefit, which is now part of universal credit. They were introduced just over 10 years ago and are meant to give support to people on low income who are renting privately, including people who are working, so that they can keep up with paying their rent. However, in the last 10 years rates have been cut repeatedly and are now frozen, leaving people who need the support struggling to pay their rent. Research by Crisis and the Chartered Institute of Housing found that in 92% of areas in Great Britain, fewer than one in five homes were affordable within local housing allowance rates last year for single people, couples or small families. The cut has an impact on a huge number of people in most parts of the country, even when they are working.