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The Autumn Statement: Will My Rent Increase Next Year?

What Help Was Announced For Social Housing Tenants And Mortgage Holders Claiming Universal Credit In The Government’s Autumn Statement?

On the 17 November 2022, The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt presented his Autumn Statement to parliament.

What is the Autumn Statement?

The Government decides how much money you will be taxed and where the money will be spent. It announces these plans in March of every year. The Autumn Statement acts as an update half a year after the March plans are announced. Despite it being an update, if during that half a year there have been any changes, such as a new prime minister, it is just as important.

What was announced for social housing tenants?

The Government announced a 7% cap on social housing rents for 2023-2024, due to come into effect in April.

This means that social landlords can only raise the rents for their tenants by up to 7% – landlords do not necessarily have to implement this maximum amount. Before the Autumn Statement social housing rents next year could have potentially been raised by 11.1% in accordance with the consumer price index (CPI) plus 1%.

This is estimated to save the average social housing tenant £200 next year, according to calculations made in the statement.

What was announced for mortgage holders claiming universal credit?

The Bank of England has raised base interest rate from 2.5% to 3%, the highest interest rate since 2008. Due to this high increase in interest rate, the Government announced support for mortgage holders receiving universal credit.

From spring 2023 those on universal credit will be able to apply for a Support of Mortgage Interest loan to help with interest repayments after three months of claiming, instead of nine.

The Government will also abolish the zero earnings rule to allow claimants to continue receiving support while in work and on Universal Credit.

What can I do if I live in social housing and cannot afford my rent?

Many tenants have expressed worry that they will not be able to afford their rent next year. Although the Autumn Statement has limited the amount social housing landlords can increase rent, many tenants are already in difficult financial positions because of the cost of living crisis.

Following the Autumn Statement the Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, Kate Henderson, has said:

“Housing associations are deeply aware of the financial pressures facing their residents. The sector has made a commitment that no tenant will be evicted because of financial hardship where they are engaging with their housing association. Each housing association also has tailored support in place to help residents who are struggling with the cost of living.”

Whilst this will come as a reassurance to social housing tenants many will still face struggles affording their rent in the next year.

So what if you can’t pay your rent?

If you’re a social housing tenant:

Firstly, if you do not already you may be able to claim universal credit to help with your rent if you are on a low income, are 18 or over, have less than £16,000 in savings and meet immigration and residence conditions.

As well as this, you may also get a discretionary housing payment (DHP) from the council if you cannot afford your rent. To be able to get DHP you need to be in receipt of either universal credit housing element or housing benefit.

If you have exhausted all means available to you and you still cannot pay your rent then your landlord may be able to seek possession of the property. To find out more about this visit our blog: Possession claims by social landlords: what should my landlord and I be doing?

If you’re a private rented tenant:

Please take a look at our Megan Finnis’ blog – The Cost of Living Crisis: What can you do if your landlord is trying to increase your rent?

Whilst the 7% cap on social housing rent may save households £200 next year, tenants will still be affected and many are still campaigning for a rent freeze for households living in the social rented sector.

If you’re struggling to pay your rent and find yourself threatened with the loss of your home, contact our specialist housing team now on 0330 822 3451 or make an enquiry online.

The author of this blog is Hester Cowley, Legal Clerk in our Housing Law team. 

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