Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney MP, Gerald Jones has welcomed Theresa May’s announcement to u-turn on plans to cap the Local Housing Allowance at this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
The UK Government had proposed to introduce the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) Cap in 2019 for Social Housing Tenants and for those in Supported Housing meaning that, in some cases, tenants would have had to find an extra £500 a year.
A case study by Merthyr Valleys Homes, the largest social housing provider in Merthyr Tydfil, found a 90 year old who has lived in the same 3 bedroom house in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil for the past 54 years with a rent of £83.32 would have only received £67.76 in LHA. Under the UK Government’s proposals, she would have had to find an additional £15.56 a week towards her rent out of her single person’s pension.
Mike Owen the Chief Executive of Merthyr Valleys Homes described the decision to end the local housing allowance cap as “very welcome news”. He said “the proposal was wrong from the start, our tenants in Merthyr Tydfil have some of the lowest rents in the UK but under the now dropped proposals they would have had to make the largest contributions to top up their rent from their Universal Credit of any tenants in the UK. We supported Gerald Jones MP in his campaign and we valued his support in asking questions to the Prime Minister on behalf of our tenants.”
Housing providers across the country have welcomed the news given the significant hardship that it would have caused to tenants. Community Housing Cymru (CHC), the membership body for Welsh housing associations, has undertaken analysis which demonstrates that if the UK Government applies the LHA cap to social housing from April 2019, it will make social housing unaffordable for those who it was intended for.
Gerald Jones MP said, “It is clear that the geographical nature of the Local Housing Allowance cap was an attack on less well-off people in our communities and would have hit people on low incomes in places like Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney hard. The need for secure housing lies at the heart of people’s needs in order that they feel part of a caring society.”
“I challenged the Prime Minister on this issue earlier this year and therefore, I welcome the Prime Minister’s u-turn in that it will save tenants across Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney from further hardship and stress in relation to the security of a home. However, this change is just one glimmer of light amongst the many hard-line, regressive policies being pursued by this Tory Government.”