The Richmond Liberal Democrats have been relentless in their lobbying of central government to end the freeze on Local Housing Allowance (LHA). It appears that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has listened to them in his Autumn Statement and made this much-needed change.
Following meetings between Richmond Spokesperson for Housing Cllr Jim Millard and government ministers, Richmond Council Leader Cllr Gareth Roberts and Cllr Millard recently wrote to the Chancellor urging the Government to take action to relieve the financial burden on councils and residents and properly address the rise of homelessness within London. They called on the Chancellor to unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance and raise it to at least 30% of local market rents.
Commenting on the Chancellor’s decision to do just this, Cllr Jim Millard said:
“While there is much that is disastrous and wrong in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, we are glad that he has at least listened to the Liberal Democrats’ concerns regarding LHA. 1 in 13 private renters in Richmond borough rely on the LHA to cover housing costs but just 0.9% of rental properties within our borough are within current LHA levels. Unfreezing the LHA increases the number of rental properties that fall within LHA levels and provides more support to Richmond residents in need. This is a vital step in tackling the rising levels of homelessness presentations we are seeing in Richmond Upon Thames.
“All across London, homelessness is increasing and the Government finally unfreezing the LHA and raising it to 30% of local market rents was the bare minimum the Tories could have done. At the moment all that has been promised appears to be a one-year unfreezing, followed immediately by a further freeze from 2025. We call on the government to go further and guarantee LHA will not be frozen again, otherwise we risk a repeat of the exact same emergency we are seeing now.”
The Liberal Democrats have consistently urged the government to address the rise in homelessness. The Conservative government has a long way to go before it can claim to have successfully dealt with the issue, but at least they heeded the advice of the Liberal Democrats on Richmond Council in this instance, whilst the rest of the Autumn statement leaves people worse off than before.