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News: Government to blame for high poverty in rental sector, claims lettings body

Tue, 12 Feb 19

A lettings sector trade body has put the blame firmly on government for the scale of poverty amongst those who privately rent.

A report from the National Housing Federation at the end of last week claimed that no fewer than 46 per cent of all children in privately rented homes in England live in poverty - despite 71 per cent of their families being in work.

High rent, claimed the NHF, was a contributing factor to the poverty.

But a statement from Chris Town, vice chair of the Residential Landlords Association, says the problem is political.

“The biggest driver of poverty in the private rented sector remains the government’s freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates. Support for housing costs is simply failing to keep up with the realities of rented housing and we call on the government to use its spending review to drop the freeze" he says.

“It is though disappointing that [the NHF] report failed to note that the official data shows that the proportion of income spent on private sector rents is falling compared to the social sector where it is increasingly. Data also shows that over the last year private sector rents fell in real terms.

“In the end, the best way to ensure rents are affordable is to boost the supply of homes to rent alongside all other tenures. This means the government adopting a positive, pro-growth tax regime that supports and encourages the majority of good landlords to provide them.”

The English Housing Survey shows that between 2010-11 and 2017-18, the proportion of household income (including housing benefit) that private sector tenants spent on their rent decreased from 35 per cent to 33 per cent. 

In the same period the proportion of household income (again including housing benefit) that social renters spent increased from 27 per cent to 28 per cent.

The Office for National Statistics has reported that in the year to December 2018, private sector rents paid by tenants in the UK rose by one per cent, well below inflation.

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