From January 2012, single people under the age of 35 who rent in the private sector have only been able to claim housing benefit (called Local Housing Allowance for private sector renters) to cover the cost of rent for a room in shared accommodation, rather than for a flat or house. Even if the person is renting a flat, they can only claim LHA to cover the cost of renting a room in a shared property in their area.
The government calls this the Shared Accommodation Rate. It used to be called the Single Room Rate. Before 2012, it applied to people who were under 25 years of age, rather than under 35.
Some people are exempt from this limit. This includes:
- some disabled people
- people who have lived in homelessness hostels
- some people in supported housing
- some people who are ex-offenders.
Crisis and other charities campaigned against the shared accommodation rate, saying that the modest single room rate would exclude people from housing and increase the risk of homelessness for people in the under-35 age group. Charities were also concerned that there was not enough accommodation to cater for people under the age of 35 who would require rooms in shared accommodation. There were also concerns that people would be pushed into unsuitable housing or into sharing accommodation inappropriately.
No homes for the young – benefit changes could force young people into homelessness
Report on renting on benefits in London reveals only 5.5% of shared properties in London are affordable to under 35s – Homeless Link.
Investigation of the impact of changes to the shared accommodation rate which will force thousands of vulnerable people out of their one-bedroom flats and into houseshares – Inside Housing.
The Shared Accommodation Rate
Guide from Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people.
Shared room rate change risks homelessness
A group of charities has written to the government warning that plans to extend shared room rate payments could increase homelessness.