Labour councillors are demanding an increase in housing benefit levels to reflect the lack of social housing in Brighton and Hove.
The city’s Housing Committee chair is calling on fellow councillors to help lobby the Government to increase benefits so people aren’t priced out of renting locally.
Councillor Gill Williams wants benefits to come up to the “appropriate level” as there is not enough social (council) housing available to people on low incomes.
At Full Council on Thursday 26 October, Councillor Williams is set to ask for chief executive Geoff Raw to write to the Secretary of State for Communities expressing concern about local people being priced out of the private market and “demanding” that housing benefit levels are increased.
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) which sets housing benefit weekly rates in the city are £82.66 for shared accommodation where people share more than one room such as a shared kitchen; one-bedroom at £157.61; two-bedroom at £204.20; three-bedroom at £237.19 and four-bedroom at £349.54.
A search on a well-known property site revealed rooms in shared flats start at £92 per week in the Lewes Road area and one-bedroomed flats from £167 a week on the outer edges of the city.
In a notice of motion due to go before councillors next Thursday Councillor Williams said: “This benefit – for which there are 1.3 million claimants country-wide – is causing increasing levels of poverty, debt and homelessness.
“The diminishing financial support for private renters on low incomes has meant there are often large shortfalls between Local Housing Allowance rates and people’s rents.
“Allowance rates are an important part of housing and welfare policy and ought to be properly resourced so that, when needed, they sufficiently cover the costs of renting and help successfully secure people’s homes.”
As evidence for her case Councillor Williams included recent analysis by the National Housing Federation (NHF) which found that 94 per cent of homes for private rent – and up to 99 per cent in some areas – are too expensive for those on housing benefit.
She said in 2013, LHA rates were separated from market values and eventually frozen in 2016, leaving many unable to afford a place to live, resulting in increased homelessness.
Fellow Labour councillor Carmen Appich is seconding Councillor Williams’ motion.
The Full Council meets at Hove Town Hall in public on Thursday 24 October from 4.30pm.