Westminster Hall debate shaped by Bevan Foundation work

Poverty A street of colourful houses
NewsMarch 16th, 2023

The Bevan Foundation’s work was quoted extensively in a UK Parliament debate

Housing was largely overlooked as an issue by the Chancellor’s in his spring Budget, but the Bevan Foundation were pleased to see that the challenges faced by low-income renters were raised in Parliament on March 15th thanks to a Westminster Hall debate on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) brought forward by Hywel Williams MP.  We were especially pleased to see that the Bevan Foundation’s latest work on the LHA heavily informed the discussion. 

Over the course of the debate MPs from across the UK and from multiple parties reiterated calls made by the Bevan Foundation, for LHA rates to be uplifted and for the collection of better, more comprehensive data from the private rental sector. Hywel Williams MP quoted the Foundation’s research during the debate at several points saying:  

The actual numbers are stunningly bad … There is a broad consensus across the Housing and homelessness support sector in favour of unfreezing, and of restoring the LHA to the 30th percentile.  

Karen Buck MP made the point that:

it is absolutely impossible to consider the issues of Local Housing Allowance in isolation from housing policy – and the fact that the housing market is so fundamentally broken is what is driving the crisis in rents and the unaffordability and therefore the pressure on the housing allowance. 

Whilst Christina Rees MP used the Foundation’s report report to highlight the extent of the LHA shortfall within her constituency of Neath Port Talbot:  

The Bevan Foundation found only 32 properties in Wales at or below the LHA rate. Twenty-three also had one or more of the barriers that I just mentioned. To put it another way, only nine properties fully covered by the LHA did not require one or more of the additional qualifications. 

Responding on behalf of the government in her position as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the DWP, Mims Davies MP noted stated that the UK Government would continue to review the position of LHA but refused to commit to an uplift to LHA rates. She also revealed that there hasn’t been a request for a review of the Broad Rental Market Area boundaries in Wales, something that the Bevan Foundation has called for.   

While it is disappointing that yesterday’s budget announcement did not include an uplift in LHA rates or any substantive proposals to address the housing crisis across the UK, it is positive to see that MPs are continuing to push for increased support for renters, using the Bevan Foundation’s research to support their work. In this regard we were especially pleased to hear Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions committee call for greater support through the LHA and we hope that this is an issue that features more prominently during discussions on broader social security reform. 

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