Hucknall and Ashfield private renters on universal credit are being squeezed short

More than 60 per cent of private tenants in Hucknall and Ashfield relying on universal credit to pay their rent have a shortfall between the amount they receive and what they have to pay.

Government figures show that across Ashfield, there are 3,004 private rental sector (PRS) households in receipt of universal credit with a housing cost support element to it.

Of these, 1,915 – 63.7 per cent – had a gap between their local housing authority (LHA) rate and their private rents, meaning there was a £75 average gap each month between LHA rents and benefits received.

In Nottingham, which covers Bulwell, there were 9,724 PRS households receiving universal credit, of which 4,891 – 50.3 per cent – had a gap between their LHA rate and their private gap, an average monthly shortfall gap of £80.

New data shows there is a shortfall between benefit payments and rent for private renters on universal credit

The LHA is used to calculate the amount tenants can receive to support housing costs as part of a universal credit payment.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government increased the allowance in April 2020 so that it covered the bottom 30 per cent of private rents in any given area.

In April last year, the rate was frozen in cash terms and remains frozen in 2022-23.

But this freeze has meant the link between local rent levels and the amount of housing benefit support received has been broken.

Now, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has called on the Government to unfreeze the LHA and so restore that link.

Teresa Kaczmarek, East Midlands spokesperson for the NRLA, said: “The benefits system fails to provide renters and landlords across the East Midlands with the security they need.

"The freeze merely exacerbates the already serious cost of living crisis for tenants across the region.

“The Chancellor needs to listen and respond to the concerns of both renters and landlords by unfreezing housing benefits as a matter of urgency.”

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