Data shows where private renters would get biggest housing benefit boost ahead of Autumn Statement

There are also hopes housing benefits for private renters will be unfrozen by the chancellor in his Autumn Statement. Investigations Correspondent Daniel Hewitt discovers that lifting the freeze could mean £400 a month extra in certain areas, towards renting a two bedroom property.

Private renters in England will receive hundreds of pounds more to help pay their rent if Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirms an uplift in housing benefit in the Autumn Statement on Wednesday.

Analysis, exclusively for ITV News by Zoopla, shows financial support would increase by more than 50% for renters looking for a two bedroom property in some parts of the country, with some receiving more than £450 extra to help cover their monthly rental cost.

Rents have sky rocketed in recent months while housing benefit has remained frozen since 2020. This is driving up homelessness and pushing some councils to the brink of bankruptcy as they struggle to pay for temporary accommodation.

There are 4.6 million private renters in England, of this 38% of them receive housing benefit. 

It is crucial support for millions of families whose incomes do not cover the cost of rent and includes people who work full-time, part-time and those who do not.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, which determine the level of housing benefit people receive to pay rent where they live, have been frozen in cash terms since 2020.

Dan Hewitt spoke to families who were made homeless by local authorities in the space of a few minutes

Data for ITV News by Zoopla shows the average rental cost for a two bedroom property in England is currently 22% higher than the average LHA rate, which means a £152 shortfall every month.

It means finding an affordable place to rent has become harder and harder for people in receipt of housing benefit, and virtually impossible in some areas, as ITV News reported in June.

Earlier this month ITV News published a letter which more than 100 council leaders in England had written to the chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement calling for the Treasury to uplift housing benefit to cover 30% of the private rental market.

My colleague Anushka Asthana reported at the weekend that Jeremy Hunt was looking into it, with possible movement after lobbying from the Housing Secretary Michael Gove and DWP Secretary Mel Stride.

Increasing housing benefit would benefit all renters, but analysis exclusively carried out for ITV News by Zoopla shows where renters will most benefit.

Areas that will see the biggest rise in housing benefit support

Cambridge - £463 per month (55% increase)

Ashford - £310 (53%)

Bradford and South Dales £204 (45%)

Crawley and Reigate - £372 (42%)

Bristol - £341 (41%)

Grantham £223 (41%)

Nottingham £222 (41%)

Canterbury £238 (40%)

Chelmsford £343 (39%)

Oxford £351 (39%)

Sussex £249 (38%)

Tyneside £181 (38%)

North West Kent £316 (37%)

Greater Manchester £178 (37%)

Numbers based estimated housing benefit levels for a two bedroom property and analysis of the private rental market as of April 2023

In Cambridge, support for paying for a two bedroom property would increase by 55%, with support rising from £848 to £1,311. In Ashford, Kent help would increase by 53% and in Bradford by 45%.

In 76 local areas, housing benefit support would rise by more than a third. 

Commenting on the findings, Zoopla's Executive Director Richard Connell says resetting local housing allowance in line with the real cost of rent would be "an important first step".

"Rents for homes across Britain have raced ahead of the growth in earnings over the pandemic. 

"Our work with homelessness charity Crisis shows that freezing the local housing allowance over time means fewer homes are available to rent for those in receipt of housing benefit forcing households to stay where they are or become at risk of homelessness. 

"Resetting the local housing allowance in line with the market is an important first step to supporting those under the greatest pressure from the chronic supply/demand imbalance in the private rented sector. Longer term it's vital that national and local government work to boost housing supply including homes available for rent to all types of household".  

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