Renters on benefits living on knife-edge in Essex

9 May 2019, 07:36 | Updated: 9 May 2019, 07:42

Buy Or Rent Debate 3

A new analysis has exposed just how unaffordable renting is getting in Essex for people receiving Universal Credit.

The Local Housing Allowance - the housing portion of Universal Credit - was frozen in 2016.

The charity Crisis says that's leaving more and more people in the East of England at risk of homelessness, as the cost of renting goes up.

Their research found that for single people under 35 receiving Universal Credit, no rented rooms were affordable in Chelmsford, and just 1 per cent were classed as affordable in Harlow.

For small families receiving the benefit in South West Essex, only 2 per cent of two-bedroom rented houses were affordable.

Crisis is now beginning a 'Cover the Cost' campaign - calling on the Government to fix Universal Credit so it covers the true cost of renting.

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said: "We all deserve the dignity and stability that a safe and decent home provides. Yet the widening gulf between Universal Credit and private rents is leaving many in the East of England living on a knife-edge.

"More and more people are forced to make impossible choices between keeping up with the rent and paying for essentials like food and bills, all the while knowing that falling behind with payments could cost them their homes.

"Universal Credit can be a tool to prevent homelessness, but only with the right investment - and that's why we are launching this campaign today.

"We need to see Government bring Universal Credit back in step with the true cost of renting. This will drastically reduce council spending and will provide greater reassurance to private landlords that people on Universal Credit can afford to pay their rent each month. Most importantly, it will stop people becoming homeless in the first place while giving those on the lowest incomes the safe and stable homes they need to build their futures."