East Suffolk Council deputy leader David Beavan writes to Mel Stride MP, Secretary of State of Work and Pension, asking him to urgently review Local Housing Allowance rates
A Suffolk councillor has written to the government asking it to urgently review housing benefits to help those struggling with rents.
David Beavan, representative for Southwold and deputy leader of East Suffolk Council, has sent a letter to Mel Stride MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, asking him and his department to reassess Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates.
The LHA supplements have been frozen since April 2020, and due to skyrocketing rent prices, the large shortfalls mean many low income renters are unable to afford the gap, leaving them at risk of rent arrears and eviction.
The letter has also been signed by council top dogs from across the country, including Cheltenham Boroguh Council and Cotswold District Council.
Cllr Beavan said: “Housing benefits should keep up with rents, but as these have increased the benefits have frozen, which means people have to make up the gap themselves.
“Seventy-two per cent of our council tenants are on housing benefits, so we’re getting less which means we can’t afford to build houses to solve the problem.
“We cant build our way out of it and with housing benefits declining in real terms, more and more people are at risk of becoming homeless.
“Some Tories have dug into us, Tom Hunt is saying why haven’t we done something about it, which is rich as they’re the ones making the problem.”
Cllr Beavan’s Letter to the DWP states that most households will have a minimum shortfall of £150 a month which they will have to make up from other limited income, at a time when the cost of living keeps increasing.
Suffolk is the 13th most expensive county based on average rent price in the country, with the average price growth from September 2021 to 2022 being eight per cent.
In East Suffolk, the average rent is £703 per month with an average change of 11.2 per cent in 2022; if these increases were to continue, average rent would reach £1,120 by 2025.
Cllr Beavan continued: “We’re here to allocate the scarce resources and the government aren’t paying housing benefits properly.
“If the rent goes up they’ve just got to pay a bit more.
“To create a problem and then blame it on someone else is just dishonest, although it’s not just the Tories; it’s been going on for 30 years and Labour won’t be much better.”
The deputy leader’s letter calls on the government to end the ‘damaging freeze’ to LHA rates and review it imminently.
The elected mayor of Watford, Peter Taylor and leader of Folekstone and Hythe District Council, Tim Prater were among the letter signatories.