Landlords have called on the Chancellor to unfreeze housing benefit as they warn that hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to pay their monthly rents.
Official data shows that of all private rented households in receipt of the Local Housing Allowance, over half (57%) have a shortfall. This amounts to just over 820,000 households.
Regionally, the proportion of private rented households affected ranges from almost 41% in London, through to 69% in Wales.
The figures come as the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that housing-related benefits spending is expected to rise by just 0.1% of GDP by 2025. The OBR notes that this is the smallest increase seen in any of the four recessions seen since the early 1980s.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has urged the Treasury to unfreeze housing benefit rates, which have been frozen since April 2021, to help renters facing what the association calls ‘a perfect cost of living storm’.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA, said: ‘Vulnerable renters are facing a perfect storm of rising costs matched by a benefits system that is failing to keep up.
‘Whilst the Chancellor’s one-off pots of money to support households are welcome, these cannot be used to hide the deficiencies of the benefits system. Landlords and tenants are dismayed at the Government’s chronic inaction to make the changes they desperately need.
‘With inflation soaring we cannot wait any longer. The Chancellor needs to do the right and logical thing by unfreezing housing benefits without delay.’
The Treasury has been contacted for comment.