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Benefit changes increase homelessness from rented housing

Changes to the benefit system are behind the decade-long increase in homelessness from private rented housing, according to research by the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University for the Residential Landlords Association (RLA).

The research found that a key driver of homelessness from the private rented sector was the introduction in 2008 of the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), as a way of calculating Housing Benefit payments for low income households.

There is evidence, both from the Manchester Met research and from other sources that the gap between LHA rates and actual rents has increased in recent years and is expected to continue to increase in the future. A quarter of landlords surveyed in this research reported that this gap was more than £100 per month.

The research team found that security of tenure is not a cause of homelessness from the PRS, as the English Housing Survey showed that 90% of tenancies are ended by the tenant. Rather the research team found that the LHA rates has had a ‘double whammy’ effect that is driving homelessness because tenants in receipt of Housing Benefit are more likely than other tenant groups to have their tenancy ended; and these households are then finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable, affordable accommodation in the private rented sector.

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