Ahead of the Autumn Statement, many constituents contacted me about rising homelessness and the cost of living, and local housing allowance (LHA).
LHA has been frozen since 2020. While other benefits have been uprated in line with inflation, LHA has remained at the same level as it was 3 years ago – which is based on rents in the year up to September 2019. Since then, bills and the cost of living have increased significantly, with rents rising at the fastest rate on record.
LHA is a critical element of people’s income and many are now being forced to make up the difference between their rent and LHA. Many have already, and will continue, to reduce their spending on other necessities such as food and heating or risk getting into rent arrears, which puts them in danger of becoming homeless.
This is causing hardship for people in our community, and it is something that comes up in my casework day in, day out.
I wrote to the Chancellor about this issue urging him to consider taking steps to support people in our community by increasing LHA in line with inflation.
I was pleased and relieved that the Chancellor listened to these calls.
It is not all good news though. The uplift in LHA will not be implemented until April 2024, which means people in our community will face another uncertain and difficult winter with the cost of living and rent.