There is widespread public support for increasing the value of Housing Benefit and Local Housing Allowance, or the equivalent payment in Universal Credit, to help cover rising rental costs and tackle the homelessness crisis.
A survey of over 4,000 British adults, which was commissioned by the homeless charity Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) think-tank, found that 75% agree that Housing Benefit should rise inline with rents.
The survey also shows that 76% of respondents agreed that Housing Benefit is the most effective way of preventing people from becoming homeless in the first place.
John Sparkes, Chief Executive of the homeless charity Crisis, said: “The Westminster Government has committed to reduce homelessness, but without addressing the root causes such as unaffordable rents, homelessness will continue to rise.”
He added: “Housing benefit is an important tool and could be the quickest and most effective way to prevent homelessness in the short term, but it is fundamentally flawed because of severe under investment.
“Ending homelessness is truly within our capabilities and government must act now to deliver on its promises.”
Housing Benefit has been targeted for cuts over the last decade and the four-year benefits freeze, which has been in force since 2016, has been blamed for pushing low-income families to the brink of homelessness.
And recent figures published by the Office For National Statistics revealed a 22% rise in the number of homeless deaths in England and Wales in the last year.
Darren Baxter, Housing Policy and Partnerships Manager at The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “A home should be an anchor against being swept into poverty but for many families the cost of renting a home is adding an extra strain.
“It does not have to be this way. We can ensure housing costs do not push households into poverty if we invest in building the low cost rented homes and, in the short term, invest in housing benefit so that it reflects the real costs of renting.”