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Affordable homes, UC advice and calls for rental minister

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper considering how affordable housing is defined in England and looks at key trends in the affordability of different tenure types. 

It examines the supply of affordable housing and the role of Housing Benefit in allowing families to access and keep affordable housing. 

Of note, the paper states: “Home ownership has been difficult to access in recent years, particularly for first-time buyers, while access to social housing is constrained by a lack of supply. 

“The private rented sector has been the beneficiary and now houses more households than the social rented sector. 

“Private sector rent levels in high pressure areas have increased in response to demand. 

“One government response has been to restrict levels of assistance through Housing Benefit. Some London authorities argue that there is no affordable private rented accommodation available in their areas for households who are reliant on Housing Benefit.”

In respect of rent rises in the private sector the paper notes:

“The rise in rents has been close to the rise in individual earnings at national level. 

For example, both rents and earnings in Great Britain grew by around 17% between 2011 and 2019. 

Rents have outpaced earnings in some regions. In London, rents grew by 22% between 2011 and 2019 compared with 15% growth in earnings. 

In the South East, rents grew by 19% while earnings grew by 15%.”

Page 24 of the briefing includes a map showing median private rents as a proportion of median earnings for local authorities in England.

You can read the paper in full here.

DWP Publishes updated Universal Credit guidance for landlords

The Department for Work and Pensions has published updated guidance for landlords on Universal Credit. 

It provides information for landlords to help them understand what they can do to help their tenants prepare for:

  • their move to the single Universal Credit benefit payment
  • making payments of their housing costs direct to their landlord themselves

Alongside this, guidance has also been published on Alternative Payment Arrangements which is available here.

You can read the guidance in full here.

Property industry figures call for a Minister for Renting

A number of figures in the property industry have written to Prime Minister to urge him to appoint a minister for renting.

Anne-Marie Brown, the founder and chief executive of newly launched build-to-rent online search platform Love to Rent, said in the letter that the priorities for the government should be to oversee and raise standards for millions of people currently in rental accommodation, much of which is not fit for purpose and to enforce these standards on landlords who do not comply”.

The letter was co-signed by consultancy Arcadis and developers Folio and Hera.

A recent poll by Deltapoll found that nearly four in 10 British adults expect that either they and/or their children will be living in rented accommodation in 10 years’ time.

Claiming that “we are on the cusp of a rental revolution”, Brown also called on the Prime Minister to “encourage and play a part in the growing build-to-rent sector which has the ability to improve the lives of millions in the future.”

She added: “The newly elected government needs to start looking at ways to support the growing rental sector, demonstrating that it is a real and secure alternative to home ownership.

“Programmes aimed at getting people on the housing ladder are positive. However, the government is in danger of completely ignoring the 20% of households which are private rentals.”


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