New research reveals ‘serious shortage’ of rental properties for low-income households in Wales

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New research by a Welsh think tank has revealed a severe shortage of rental accommodation for low-income households in Wales.

Bevan Foundation research has found that as the cost of living continues to soar, Wales’ most influential think tank, the shortage of properties available at Local Housing Benefit rates ( LHA) has become “severe”.

The LHA determines the amount of assistance a low-income household living in the private rental sector can receive for their rent through the benefit system and has been frozen since 2020.

The think tank found that LHA only covered the full rent in less than one in fifty properties advertised for rent in Wales in the first week of May.

Data was collected on 1,775 rental adverts across Wales, of which only 24 were advertised at a price that would be fully covered by the LHA – just 1.4% of the total.

This figure is down from previous research figures when 2.7% of properties analyzed from May to December 2021 were advertised at LHA rates.

This shortage of properties highlights the role housing is playing in the cost of living crisis and shows that Wales is at risk of increasing homelessness if the trend continues, they said.

Commenting on the new findings, Housing Policy Officer Hugh Kocan said: “These findings highlight the ever-increasing pressure felt by households across Wales.

“The number of homes available at LHA rates has fallen further since last year. With the cost of living rising for everyone, it is becoming increasingly likely that Wales will experience increasing levels of homelessness in the near future.

Of the 22 local authorities in Wales, 15 local authority areas contained no properties available at LHA rates.

Tiny

Even in local authorities with availability at the LHA rate, the properties available as part of the overall stock were tiny.

The Bevan Foundation’s head of poverty policy, Dr Steffan Evans, said: ‘This stark figure shows that there is a housing crisis across Wales, in both urban and rural areas.

“The fact that so many local authority areas in Wales had no properties available at LHA rates illustrates the failure of current LHA policy.”

The housing shortage is further compounded by the requirements that many potential tenants must meet before they can rent a property. Large deposits, guarantor requirements, and credit checks are all examples of requirements that can prevent a household from renting. In total, only 1% of homes in Wales were fully covered by the LHA and did not have excessive requirements.

Hugh Kocan added: “The UK Government and the Welsh Government must take urgent action to stop the rise in homelessness due to the LHA gap. Increasing LHA rates annually in line with inflation should be a priority.

“Without this step, more households across the UK will risk losing a safe and secure place to live.”


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