THE CRISIS CONTINUES
For those people who are renting privately and in receipt of either Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit, the amount that they can receive is determined by Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates. These figures are set by the Valuation Office Agency and are based on a number of factors. In the East Riding, if you are a single person under 35 with no children, the maximum amount you will be awarded towards your rent is £70.00 per week. It does not matter how much more your rent is per week; this is the maximum award allowed and you would need to find the money to pay your remaining rent yourself.
LHA rates have been frozen by the Government since their last increase in April 2020, despite the Cost of Living Crisis and rising rental costs. This is resulting in more and more private renters falling in to negative budgets. Nationally, Citizens Advice saw more people accessing our website for help with rent increases in January 2023 than in any other month since they began recording the data. Statistics from Citizens Advice nationally show that private renters are paying around 43% more in rent than those living in social housing.
The rise in rental costs has led to increase in the number of private tenants being evicted either due to rent arrears or due to the homeowners deciding to sell the property. Those tenants who are not being forced out of their property by their landlord are still being forced out due to spiralling costs, yet they cannot afford to move elsewhere.
Month on month, we are seeing more people come to us for advice about rent increases, and we predict that this worrying trend will continue.
This, along with the energy support for households ending and the cost of food and bills continuing to rise is leading to more and more people accessing our service for crisis support. During the first two months of 2023, Citizens Advice nationally saw more people coming to us who were unable to top up their gas and electricity meters than in the whole of 2021 combined. This figure is likely to increase as we move in to April onwards when the Energy Bills Support Scheme ends. We also helped over 53,000 people with crisis support in January and February. Locally, we distributed 174 £50 Tesco Vouchers in the first two weeks of March as part of the Household Support Scheme with East Riding Council. This resulted in the scheme ending before the deadline of the end of March.
At Citizens Advice Hull and East Riding, we continue to provide help and support to anyone that needs it from us.
We also continue to gather and report evidence of the cost of living crisis that members of our community are facing to National Citizens Advice to allow them to continue their vital campaign work.
Finally, we continue our ongoing recruitment drive for volunteers who form a vital part of the work we do in our local communities. We have a variety of opportunities available across all of our offices.