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Philip Hammond under pressure to scrap housing benefit cap in Autumn Budget

Liz Bates

2 min read

Philip Hammond has faced fresh calls to lift the housing benefit freeze amid warnings of a looming crisis for renters. 

Housing charity Shelter said those who rent face a "tide of despair" and risk being "tipped into homelessness".

In her keynote speech at the Conservative conference last week, Theresa May promised a £2bn injection of public funds to pay for an extra 25,000 homes for social rent by 2021.

But Shelter chief executive Polly Neate said the announcement would not go far enough.

“The money put forward is only a fraction of what’s needed, given just how bad this crisis has become," she declared.

“Building new homes also takes time, and time is not on the side of the million private renters who could risk being tipped into homelessness by the freeze on housing benefit.

“Whether a struggling family or a young person in low-paid work, the freeze is stripping away the help people desperately need to pay their rent.

“Given the tide of despair faced by hard-up renters, we are urging the government to abandon the freeze on housing benefit in the autumn budget or risk making more people homeless.”

Councils have also raised concerns about the Government’s housing offer, with more than 50 leaders of Labour councils and Labour mayors writing to Mrs May to ask for more cash.

In their letter, the local Labour leaders tear into the Conservatives’ housing record, saying: “Your conference announcement follows in a long line of policy decisions that Tory ministers have made on housing since 2010, which has done nothing to fix the housing crisis, and in many cases made the problems worse.

“Home-ownership across the country is down sharply, with almost 200,000 fewer homeowners since 2010, rough sleeping has more than doubled, private rents have risen faster than incomes, housing benefit spending has increased, and affordable housebuilding last year was at the lowest level in 24 years.”

The Chancellor will deliver his autumn budget on 22 November, but fears around an economic slowdown have reduced the amount of cash he has to play with for extra spending commitments.  

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