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Revealed - where tenants on Universal Credit have the biggest shortfall

Almost 70 per cent of private tenants in the North East relying on Universal Credit to pay their rent have a shortfall between the amount they receive and what they have to pay, says a landlord body.

Official data shows that across the region, 68 per cent of renters receiving housing benefit have a gap. 

Government figures show that nationally the average shortfall between the support such tenants receive and the rent they pay is £100 a month.


The proportion of tenants affected ranges from over 74 per cent in Sunderland, Stockton-on-Tees, and Darlington to just under 55 per cent in South Tyneside and Gateshead.

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 increased the Allowance 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 and remains frozen for 2022/23.

As a result of the freeze, the link between local rent levels and the amount of housing benefit support received has been broken. This means the number of properties that private renters in receipt of Universal Credit can afford will steadily decline. This is despite rents across the North East have increased by far less than inflation.


In highlighting these figures, the National Residential Landlords Association calls on the government to unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance and so restore the link with the cost of local rents.

“The benefits system is failing to provide renters and landlords across the North East with the security they need” says John Forth, the association’s spokesperson in the north east.

“It cannot be right that housing benefit support fails to reflect the reality of current rent levels. The freeze merely exacerbates  the already serious cost of living crisis for tenants across the region.

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

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  • icon

    2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment in Monmouth has UC tenant. The rent is £600pm but tenant only receives £330 towards rent.
    As the landlord I am £270 down.
    The government has no idea of real costs for the less fortunate.


    But Karen why are your tenants still there ? councils and housing associations house the '' less fortunate'' get rid of them quick while you still can you aren't a charity

  • icon

    Karen - you're right that the government has no idea of real costs.

    However, if your tenant is saying they're only getting £330 towards the rent they're being very selective in the information they're giving you.
    The LHA rate for a 2 bed in Monmouthshire is £500 a month.
    If the tenant is receiving £330 UC that's because they are working on a lowish income. The UC will only be a top up, not their entire income. The earnings disregard is quite generous so they will be on way more than an unemployed person. Plenty of people on UC choose to live in properties that cost more than LHA because they will be located closer to work so travel costs will be much lower.
    In this area the choice is to pay close to LHA rent and travel 25 miles to work or live close to work and pay £150 a month more than LHA for rent. Either way the overall cost is about the same.

  • icon

    The idea of benefits is to help people through tough times, it is not supposed to pay for everything so you don't need to work. I'm fed up with people complaining they don't get enough benefits. I've been on low income, close to minimum wage all my life, but am not entitled to any benefits as I have more then 16k assets.

  • Peter Lewis

    Karen, you have just given every landlord a reason why not to let their properties to people on benefits.


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