Cover the Cost Campaign
Cover the Cost Campaign
Jasmine Basran, Senior Policy Officer at Crisis, talks to us about the Cover the Cost Campaign, asking the Government to invest in Local Housing Allowance in the upcoming Spending Review.
Everyone deserves a stable home they can afford. Having a stable home provides us with a foundation where we can feel safe and build our lives. But for too many people finding and keeping a home is difficult and, in many cases, impossible.
Losing a private tenancy is one of the most common causes of homelessness today. One of the main reasons behind this is that Universal Credit is not covering the cost of rent for people on low incomes.
Local Housing Allowance, which forms part of a household’s Universal Credit payment, was originally created to help people pay their rent in the private rented sector when they are struggling to make ends meet. So, for example, if they are stuck in low-paid work, or are unable to work from illness or having to take up caring responsibilities.
However, cuts to Local Housing Allowance rates in the last decade, including a four-year freeze since 2016, mean that they no longer cover the cost of rents for people that need support. Too often, this means people are faced with impossible choices to feed their family and pay bills or keep the roof over their head. Time and again, we see in our services how this is putting more and more people at risk of falling into arrears and, in the worst cases, becoming homeless.
Crisis’ research with the Chartered Institute of Housing shows that the cumulative impact of the cuts mean that in 92 per cent of areas in Great Britain, just one fifth or less of the private rented sector is affordable within Local Housing Allowance rates for either single people, couples, or small families. The widening gap between Local Housing Allowance rates and rents not only threatens renters with potential eviction as they struggle to cover the cost of their rent, but also limits what people can afford when they are looking for a home once evicted, leaving them homeless.
This has meant councils have had to use expensive, and sometimes unsuitable, temporary accommodation as they struggle to find homes in the private sector for people experiencing homelessness. In England, councils are spending around £1 billion on temporary accommodation.
It doesn’t have to be like this.
Solving this crisis in the long term means building more social homes. But until supply meets demand, people on low incomes can’t continue to bear the brunt. Universal Credit must be able to give people help when they need it to keep their homes and prevent them from becoming homeless.
That’s why Crisis has launched our campaign, Cover the Cost, to call on the Government to reinvest into Local Housing Allowance rates in the Spending Review later this year.
The Spending Review is where the Government announces new public services and investment plans for the following years. It is the best chance to secure reinvestment in Local Housing Allowance rates to ensure that Universal Credit covers the cost of renting and prevents homelessness.
Having a home gives people the foundation to get a stable job and move on from difficult times. And when everyone has a safety net to fall back on, the whole of our society is stronger.
What can you do to help?
We need to demonstrate public support to our politicians that this should be a top priority in the upcoming Spending Review. You can add your voice by signing up to support our #CoverTheCost campaign to secure people’s homes and prevent many more from becoming homeless.
We are also looking for case studies from frontline staff of their experiences of supporting people to find accommodation within Local Housing Allowance rates. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to be involved.