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Council benefit payment delays affect half of tenants

Half (52%) of private sector tenants on housing benefit have experienced delays over its payment from their local council, according to new research from the National Landlords Association (NLA).

The figures, which are thought to affect approximately 3.3 million tenants, also show that in more than a third (36%) of those cases, tenants say that the delays have caused them problems with, or prevented them from, paying their rent on time.

The news follows reports from housing charity Shelter who predicts that 80% of working English households claiming housing support will face a benefits shortfall as a result of government plans to freeze housing benefit for four years – announced in July’s Budget.


At present almost three quarters of tenants claiming benefit (73%) pay their rent to their landlord after receiving it from their local council. In the remainder of cases (27%) housing benefit is paid directly to the tenant’s landlord by the council.

Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive officer, said: “Local councils are failing to support a growing number of tenants who are most in need of a home and the proportion of landlords willing to let to tenants in receipt of benefits has halved over the last few years. Their perception is that the risk is too great, and it’s easy to see why if payment delays appear to be inherent within the benefits system.

“The pressure on those private landlords who have remained in this part of the market will be seriously increased by the government’s benefits freeze and the devastating changes to mortgage interest relief announced by the Chancellor in July’s Budget.

“Ultimately, the people who suffer will be those who have almost no option other than the private rented sector for a home and yet find that they are unable to rely on their local council for the support to which they are entitled.”

The figures from the NLA also show that:

  • Around 45% of all tenants in the private rented sector receive some form of benefit payment
  • One in three (30%) receive local housing allowance (LHA), Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.
  • A quarter (26%) receive Council Tax benefit
  • One in ten (11%) receive Disability Living Allowance
  • 3% receive Job Seeker’s Allowance

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