Thousands of vulnerable people, including the homeless and care leavers, will get more cash to pay their rent, thanks to changes to housing benefits.
These changes are coming into force from Monday 31 May 2021 – two years earlier than scheduled. This will offer £10 million of additional housing support, bringing the total projected government spending on housing support to £30 billion this year.
Increases to the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) are expected to benefit thousands of Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants, and have been introduced more than two years earlier than the original implementation date of October 2023. The SAR is applied to renters aged under 35 claiming support through Local Housing Allowance (LHA). It adjusts their benefit to the cost of renting a room in shared accommodation, but there is a higher, one-bedroom rate for people who need to rent solo housing.
There are two key changes to the Local Housing Allowance:
- Care leavers can now claim the higher one-bedroom LHA rate for longer, as the maximum age limit has been raised to 25, from 22. A care leaver is a person who has been in Local Authority care (e.g. residential or foster care) for 13 weeks or more since they were age 14, and ending after age 16.
- Anyone who has lived in a homeless hostel for 3 months or more, regardless of age, will also now be able to claim the higher rate, as the age limit has been removed.
For example, in Harlow and Stortford a single care leaver aged 23 could expect to receive up to £387 additional housing support per month as a result of the change.
Minister for Welfare Delivery, Will Quince, said: “These changes are an immediate boost for some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities. We know that having a safe, secure home is vital to getting on your feet and often into work. By bringing these changes in early, we’re able to help more people right now, as we all look to recover from the pandemic.”
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