Ahead of next week's Spring Budget, and in light of the recently announced 26% increase in rough sleeping in the UK, together with our friends at Aylesbury Homeless Action Group, we have sent an open letter to every MP in Buckinghamshire asking them to call for a rise in the Local Housing Allowance.
While there are many actions that need to be taken to reduce rough sleeping and bring homelessness to an end, this single act could make a huge difference quickly.
The LHA has been frozen for more than three years while rents are growing at their fastest rate on record. At both WHC and AHAG, we are seeing more and more people at risk of losing their homes as their benefits do not come anywhere close to helping them afford their rents.
Please do contact your MP directly, or share this page or our social media posts with them, adding your voice!
Dear Steve Baker MP, Joy Morrissey MP, Greg Smith MP, Sarah Green MP and Rob Butler MP,
Both Wycombe Homeless Connection and Aylesbury Homeless Action group are proud of all the good work happening in Buckinghamshire to make homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring and we are grateful for your support. However, I am writing in advance of next week’s Spring Budget because I am concerned about progress towards the government’s goal to end rough sleeping by 2024.
Last week the national rough sleeping figures were released and showed a 26% year-on-year increase in England. Sadly, Buckinghamshire has not escaped that rise.
Rough sleeping is one of the most extreme forms of poverty and deprivation experienced by people in the UK. It is absolutely right that we should aim to put an end to it but seeing it rise by more than a quarter when we are so close to the target date clearly shows that we are not on track.
While there are a number of actions to turn this situation around, I want to focus on one which Crisis have also identified as a priority in their latest Homelessness Monitor Great Britain Report. I believe this action would achieve the biggest single impact on rough sleeping possibly in the short term which is to increase the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to cover the cheapest 30% of properties in each broad housing market area.
The gap between the LHA rates and average private rents is both growing and unsustainable. Whilst most benefits have increased with inflation, LHA rates remain frozen while private rents are rising at the fastest rate on record. This leaves too many people at risk of homelessness and moreover makes it much more difficult for us to help people who are homeless to get back into housing.
I am writing to ask that you support uprating the LHA so that it again covers the cheapest 30% of properties in our county ensuring that people who are on benefits and renting homes have a chance to stay in them.
Rough sleeping is an acutely serious issue which we came close to ending during the pandemic. Now is the time to take this action so we don’t lose that progress and we see our goal to end rough sleeping achieved.
Chief Executive Officer
Wycombe Homeless Connection and Aylesbury Homeless Action Group