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Shocking data on tenants who rely on Universal Credit to pay rent

More than 50 per cent of private tenants who rely on Universal Credit to pay their rent have a shortfall between the amount they receive and what they pay for housing. 

The revelation comes from analysis of government data by the National Residential Landlords Association.

Official data suggests that 56 per cent of private renters relying on Universal Credit have an average gap of £100 a month between the amount they receive in housing cost support and the rents they pay.


Almost 60 per cent of renters with two children relying on Universal Credit to help pay their rent have a shortfall between their rent and the benefits they receive.

Regionally, the proportion of tenants affected ranged from just over 40 per cent in London - although based on a much higher number of claimants - to over 68 per cent in Wales.

The Local Housing Allowance is used to calculate the amount tenants can receive to support housing costs as part of a Universal Credit payment. 

In response to the pandemic the government lifted it in April 2020 so that it covered the bottom 30 per cent of private rents in any given area. In April last year the rate was frozen in cash terms.

As a result of the freeze, housing benefit support is no longer linked to current rents. It means the number of properties that private renters in receipt of Universal Credit can afford will steadily decline.

New data this week suggests also that 53 per cent of adults who rent their home reported that they could not afford an unexpected expense.

This is happening despite private rents across the UK having increased by far less than inflation.


The NRLA is calling on the Government to unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance to cover average rent.

Association chief executive Ben Beadle says: “It is simply absurd that housing benefit support fails to reflect the reality of rents as they currently stand. All the freeze is doing is exacerbating the already serious cost of living crisis.

“The Chancellor needs to listen and respond to the concerns of both renters and landlords and unfreeze housing benefits as a matter of urgency.”

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  • Yvette Graham

    They don’t care, it’s their way of thinking that it will force people to get a job, but that does not work for lots of different reasons …..they need to support them and sort it out


    Millions of people who receive UC already work full time. Often as essential workers.
    It's unfortunate the government decided to call all benefits Universal Credit. Lumping the hard working low paid in with the serially unemployed or cash in hand brigade is just plain wrong.


    There are around 1.2 million job vacancies and 168 hours in every week.

    Plenty of opportunity for most people to get a job or work longer hours if they need more money.

    The use of "work full time" is interesting.

    There are plenty of extra hours in a week of 168 hours to earn extra income for those only working 35 to 40 hours in a typical week.

  • icon

    A rise in LHA just causes a rise in rents - look what happened in the pandemic when they took the fetters off the LHA rates - rents rose at the faster rate for years.

    LHA reflects the level of rent for social housing & the PRS is more expensive. What we need is more social or affordable housing not higher LHA. The Housing Benefit bill is huge and we are all paying for it!

  • icon

    “ Shocking Data”, really…. I suspect most landlords will not be shocked and I can bet the tenants are more than aware., until there is a social housing building programme akin to what happened after WW2, this will rumble on for generations. Increased LHA is a sticking plaster, we all know it but we have no one in government with the vision and talent to do anything about it.

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    • 31 March 2022 08:33 AM

    So what?!...they want landlords to make up for that shortfall?

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    I'm more shocked that the LHA actually covers the rent for 44% of private renters.
    In the majority of cases these are likely to be long term tenants who look after their homes and pay the rent on time. People the landlord doesn't want to lose.
    I currently have 6 properties at or below LHA rates. That's only while the current tenants are in situ though. I'm fully aware those properties are between £100 and £500 a month below market rent. When they eventually become vacant they will be re let at whatever the going rate is at the time.

  • icon

    Only 50% have a short fall ? think that's nearer 100%

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    Jo, very true so many are housed for below market rents or LHA never any credit given to those LL’s taking the hit. Strange Shelter, Generation Rent and the Unions never refer to this, we are attached what ever we do. The other lot that bugs me are the Rent 2 Rent brigade and Its rampant. The LL’s Rent is relatively low then sublet for maximum rent so they make the real money with no responsibility and Tenants pay full whack, the Council’s know all this but as long as it damages private LL its fine.

  • icon

    In my case tenant's rent £600pm. LHA is only £330 so the shortfall is £270 due to bedroom tax. Tenant needs a 2nd bedroom for 6yr old son who he shares parenting but UC/LA don't understand this. When this tenant is evicted under Section 21 I will be increasing the rent to whatever is considered market value here in Monmouth - £750/£800 for 2 bed/2 bathroom apartment.

  • icon

    I have recently retired. All my life, the only benefits I have received is child benefit. I have not qualified for any means tested benefits as I own my home. I have always been close to minimum wage and my wife did not work when our son was young. I have been lucky that I have had some help from my parents and my wife's parents. The benefit system is not there to support you so you don't need to work. It is there to give you a helping hand during tough times. I had to have 5 months off work due to major heart surgery, I got no help from the government, apart from SSP. My employer did not contribute to my sick pay. People should be grateful for any free money.


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