New LHA rates: what do they mean?
New LHA rates: what do they mean?

On 20 March, the chancellor announced that Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates for housing benefit will be increased to match ‘the 30th percentile’ of rents in each local area. We’ll explain more about what this means in detail, but this is a major, necessary change that will help many people cope during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and in the future.

Why is this an important change?

Housing benefit is a vital part of the social safety net for renters. It … Read more

The chancellor must lift housing benefit rates
The chancellor must lift housing benefit rates

When the government announced it was ending the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) – housing benefit for those renting privately – we and millions of households were hopeful. But as of April 2020, the government will lift LHA rates by only a pitiful 1.7%.

As our new assessment of the true impact of LHA shows, after a decade of cuts and freezes, the current proposals are nowhere near enough to provide a stable home for the estimated 1.4 million … Read more

Meet the inspiring women taking on discrimination in the courts – and winning
Meet the inspiring women taking on discrimination in the courts – and winning

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. It’s about challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, and broadening perceptions. To mark the occasion, we’d like you to meet three women who are doing just that: they’re taking on DSS discrimination in the courts – and they’re winning.

Amanda, Rosie, and Philippa each receive housing benefit to top up their income in order to pay the cost of their rent. They have also all experienced DSS discrimination when looking for … Read more

People on housing benefit are sick with worry – £10 a month is not going to change that
People on housing benefit are sick with worry – £10 a month is not going to change that

The freeze on housing benefit has been an unmitigated disaster. Private rents have risen while benefit rates stayed stuck, and people across the country are struggling to bridge the gap, leading to homelessness, debt, and poverty for many.

For years there has been every sign that politicians are happy to turn the other cheek while people on housing benefit are stressed, anxious, and sick with worry.

New research by Shelter shows the truly devastating impact the freeze is having on … Read more

The five-week wait is five weeks too long
The five-week wait is five weeks too long

Yesterday, we published a report on how the people who use our services have been impacted by Universal Credit (UC). This highlights the issues the introduction of UC has caused, drawing on the voices and experiences of people affected, as well as in depth analysis of the data they have provided. Our findings have helped inform our key recommendations for moving forwards, so if the newly re-appointed Secretary of State for Department for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, needs some … Read more

From the Frontline: the ongoing impact of welfare reform
From the Frontline: the ongoing impact of welfare reform

The consequences of the broken housing safety net are laid bare in our new report, From the Frontline. This shines a light on the thousands of people we help every year who are being pushed to the point of crisis due to the continued impact of welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit (UC).

The freeze to Local Housing Allowance (LHA), which is housing benefit for those renting privately, is forcing people to make the impossible choice between … Read more

DSS discrimination means renters are punished for their circumstances
DSS discrimination means renters are punished for their circumstances

Kyrstyna and her husband, Geoff, had been homeowners. But when they lost their jobs due to redundancy, they were forced to go back to renting privately in their 50s.

Finding somewhere to rent was tough. Like many people receiving housing benefit, Krystyna and Geoff faced DSS discrimination and struggled to find a place to live. In the end, they were forced to move all the way from the West Midlands to Cornwall just to find somewhere that would accept them … Read more

Supreme Court rules that subsistence benefits should not be used to cover rent shortfalls
Supreme Court rules that subsistence benefits should not be used to cover rent shortfalls

The Supreme Court has just given judgment in the case of Samuels v Birmingham City Council, where the court was asked to consider whether a home should have been considered affordable where the housing benefit did not meet the full rent.

This is an important test case, in which Shelter intervened. It will have major implications for local authority homelessness services and put further pressure on the government to increase Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates back to the bottom … Read more

How I challenged DSS discrimination
How I challenged DSS discrimination

A version of this blog was published on Huffington Post UK.

Guest blog by Philippa Lalor, a Shelter supporter and client

Almost one in three renters receiving housing benefit haven’t been able to apply for a place to live because of discriminatory ‘no DSS’ practices.

These range from a total ban on renting to people on benefits, to simply advertising a vast number of properties as ‘no DSS’.

As part of our campaign against DSS discrimination, Philippa successfully challenged discrimination … Read more

Zoopla bans DSS discrimination
Zoopla bans DSS discrimination

We’re celebrating another huge win in the fight to end DSS discrimination, as Zoopla announced that they are banning ‘no DSS’ adverts from their website!

Zoopla are the first major property portal site to scrap this open prejudice, which plagues portals by deterring renters receiving housing benefit from applying to homes, even when they can afford the rent.

For far too long, tenants have been barred from renting a home simply because they receive housing benefit – but changes like … Read more

International Women’s Day: we must see an end to women in housing poverty
International Women’s Day: we must see an end to women in housing poverty

International Women’s Day is a brilliant celebration of the women we all know and look up to, including our women politicians. But as well as those with a high-profile, we should also be celebrating the thousands of women, often hidden from view, who are keeping their families going despite facing homelessness and destitution.

Every day in the UK, women are waking up in poverty because they can’t cover the costs of their rent. This is no accident. The housing benefit … Read more

IFS: housing benefit bill signal of failed social housing policy. But we need it more than ever to hold back homelessness
IFS: housing benefit bill signal of failed social housing policy. But we need it more than ever to hold back homelessness

Yesterday’s article by the Director of the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), Paul Johnson, made a very welcome contribution to the growing debate that increasing social house building is the key to fixing our housing crisis. As our Social Housing Commission report showed, investment in social housing will reduce the spiralling cost of housing benefit. 

As the article points out, housing benefit gets considerably less coverage when it comes to debates about homelessness. We agree it’s about time housing benefit … Read more