Kojo Apeagyei
Kojo Apeagyei

By Kojo Apeagyei

How you made a difference; The 2017 Autumn Budget

Did it live up to its hype as “the housing budget”? Shelter is certainly pleased to see a number of positive commitments put forth to address the housing crisis and ensure more people can have access to a safe, secure and affordable home.

Our primary ask going into the Autumn Budget was for the government to lift the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – a type of housing benefit people receive to cover their rent in the private rented sector. Lifting the freeze on LHA would help prevent over a million households from being at risk of becoming homeless by 2020.

What we did

We created a petition to remove the LHA freeze which was signed by 52,193 of you, with a further 6,872 of you writing to your MPs to ask that they raise the issue with the chancellor, and a number of you also meeting your MPs directly to ask them to back the campaign.

The announcement

We are delighted to be able to say that the government has listened and pledged to address this crisis by increasing the Targeted Affordability Fund (TAF) by £125m. TAF is a pot of money that will increase Local Housing Allowance rates in areas hardest hit by the freeze. With this extra boost, announced yesterday, households struggling the most will now have more money in their pockets to help pay their rent!

So whilst this isn’t a total removal of the freeze on LHA, it is a major boost to those worst hit by the freeze.

Other budget highlights

On welfare

  • Universal Credit – an abolition of the seven day waiting period, better access to advance payments, and improvements to payments made to landlords.

You can read Kate’s blog to find out more about specific welfare policies outlined in the budget

On homelessness

  • Confirmation that the homelessness reduction taskforce will launch.
  • Re-affirmation of the pledge to end rough sleeping by 2027.

On private renting

  • A consultation on how to encourage longer tenancies – this is good progress, and in line with what we have been campaigning for, but still far from the legislative action necessary to ensure private renters have a stable home with the security to plan for the future.

On affordable housing  

  • Confirmation of the extra £2 billion for the Affordable Homes Programme to support homes for social rent.

You’ve properly seen the headlines about the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers purchasing homes under £300,000. Whilst this does sound positive on paper, realistically it will only help a very small number of people who have already been able to save enough for a deposit.

In summary

None of this would have happened if it weren’t for your help campaigning for an end to the LHA freeze and a serious commitment towards building affordable homes – so thank you!

Whilst we know there are still more battles to be won in fixing the housing crisis, the government has shown that it is listening and is taking steps in the right direction. For now though, we should all be proud that we’ve helped thousands of struggling families keep their homes.

Make no mistake, the budget announcement is a huge victory for us all.

  • Read our blog for more details on the good, the bad and the interesting from the Autumn Budget.

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