New research reveals ‘severe shortage’ of rental properties for low-income households in Wales
New research by a Welsh think tank has revealed a severe shortage of rental properties for low-income households in Wales.
The research by the Bevan Foundation found that as the cost of living continues to skyrocket, Wales’ most influential think-tank, the shortage of properties available at Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates has become “severe”.
The LHA determines how much assistance a low-income household living in the private rental sector can receive towards their rent through the benefits system and has been frozen since 2020.
The think tank has found that LHA only covered the rent in full 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 on figures in previous research when 2.7% of properties analysed in May to December 2021 were advertised at LHA rates.
This shortage of properties highlights the role that housing plays in the cost of living crisis and shows that Wales risks more people being homeless if trends continue, they said.
Commenting on the new findings, Housing Policy Officer Hugh Kocan said: “These findings highlight the ever-growing pressure felt by households across Wales.
“The number of homes available at LHA rates has fallen further since last year. With everyone’s cost of living rising, it is becoming increasingly likely that Wales will experience rising levels of homelessness in the near future.”
Of the 22 local authorities in Wales, 15 local authority areas did not contain a single property available at LHA rates at all.
Even in local authorities with availability at LHA rate, the properties available as a portion of the overall stock was minuscule.
Bevan Foundation Head of Policy on Poverty, Dr Steffan Evans said: “This stark figure demonstrates that there’s a housing crisis throughout Wales, in urban and rural areas alike.
“The fact that so many local authority areas in Wales had zero properties available at LHA rates illustrates the failure of the current policy on the LHA.”
The shortage of homes is made worse further by requirements that many prospective tenants must satisfy before they can rent a property. Large deposits, guarantor requirements and credit checks are all examples of requirements that may prevent a household from renting. In total, just 1% of homes in Wales were fully covered by the LHA and had no excessive requirements.
Hugh Kocan added: “Both the UK and Welsh Government need to take urgent steps to stop rising homelessness due to the LHA gap. Annually uplifting of LHA rates in line with inflation must be a priority.
“Without this step, greater numbers of households across the UK will be at risk of losing a safe and secure place to live.”
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