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Massive rent rise for social housing tenants expected in the spring

Private landlords get it in the neck for allegedly-high rents but 4.75m families living in social housing in England are facing rent rises of up to 4.1 per cent next April – equivalent to an average £202 extra per year.

It’s the biggest nominal increase in a decade, according to Resolution Foundation research published today.

The foundation warns that the rise will coincide with the peak of what it calls ”the cost of living crunch” delivering significant tax rises and a huge increase in the energy bill cap.


Social rents are expected to rise by 4.1 per cent in April, calculated by the Consumer Price Index in September (3.1 per cent) plus one per cent. 

While this is a cap rather than a requirement, most housing providers are expected to raise rents by the full amount, increasing the average social renter family’s rent by £202 per year.

The latest increase comes on top of a decade in which housing costs have risen faster than incomes for those living in social housing. Social renters now spend 19 per cent of their income on housing costs, net of housing benefit, up from 15 per cent a decade ago. This rise is equivalent to an extra £786 per year for the average social renter family.

In contrast, the share of income that private renters spend on housing has stayed flat over the same period (albeit at a higher 31 per cent of income), while housing costs for homeowners have fallen (to nine per cent of income).

Housing benefit will take the strain for some social renters, but the Resolution Foundation says the share of social renters receiving state support with their housing costs has fallen in recent years, as more have moved into employment. 

Almost half of social renters (44 per cent, equivalent to over two million families) are not in receipt of housing benefit, and as a result will have to find the funds to cover their April rent rise entirely by themselves.

The foundation’s new report finds that families living in social housing in London, the South East and South West are the least likely to have part of their housing costs covered by housing benefit, and therefore they are the most exposed to the big rise in rents coming next April.

Despite the worsening financial situation of many low-income families during the pandemic, government support – including the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit and extra support provided via Discretionary Housing Payments – has prevented housing arrears in the social rented sector from growing significantly so far.

But with this support now largely withdrawn, and the cost of living crunch expected to peak in April 2022, the foundation notes that social landlords can limit the financial pressures facing their tenants by avoiding rent rises of the full 4.1 per cent this year.

Lindsay Judge, research director at the Resolution Foundation, says: “Nearly five million families in social rented accommodation in England are facing the largest rise in rents for a decade next April. This big rent rise will coincide with tax rises and a major increase in the energy bill cap, putting real pressure on many low-income families.

“Social renters have already seen the largest rise in housing costs over the past decade, as rent rises have outstripped income growth since 2005. The latest increase will put particular pressure on the two million social renters who don’t receive housing benefit, but who are likely to face falling real wages, rising taxes and soaring energy bills.

“While government support has helped to limit rent arrears from building up among social renters so far, raising rents to the maximum uprating would be unwise given the cost of living crunch hitting families hard this spring.”

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  • icon

    Most living in social housing are on benefits aren't they ?

    Theodor Cable

    Yes they are......

  • icon

    Exactly that which is why there is a massive waiting list, they all want to be on the Council, no shortage of property just a shortage of people who don’t want housing unless it’s subsided, many avoid getting married and divorce now rampant to improve their chance’s.

  • PossessionFriendUK PossessionFriend

    Did anyone know that DWP will pay an enhanced Housing rate for Benefit tenants in Social Housing, under what's called 'Affordable rent' [sic]
    Same house privately rented would be paid up to a third less. !
    Joe Speye makes these points in his Housing blog.


    Didn't know that, but I'm really not surprised

  • George Dawes

    How about rent controls for council housing ?

  • icon

    As far as I can recall there have always been far greater / more onerous legislative impositions placed on private Landlords compared to Social housing providers.
    As for the prospective increase in Social rents, it is just another example of this because, If we, private Landlords proposed putting up our rent/s by a similar percentage we would be lambasted by everybody and his dog.
    It's about time for all providers of housing to be treated exactly the same


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