LHA Freeze

In response to a recent campaign on the Local Housing Allowance Freeze, David said:

"Reforms to Housing Benefit are a central part of the Government's plan to create a welfare system that supports the most vulnerable and is fair to taxpayers.

Around £24 billion a year is spent on Housing Benefit to support people with their housing costs, with over £800 million in Discretionary Housing Payments provided to local authorities to help support vulnerable claimants.

In addition, I am assured that around 30 per cent of potential savings from the LHA freeze will be used to create further Targeted Affordability Funding to help tenants in those areas where local housing allowance rates have diverged the most from local rents. I welcome that this has already been used to increase 48 LHA rates by 3 per cent in areas with high rental costs this year. The recent Budget announced additional funding of £40 million in 2018-19 and £85 million in 2019-20. This will increase the housing benefit awards of 140,000 claimants next year, by an average of £280 in areas where affordability pressures are greatest.

Ultimately, however, the key to improving affordability in the private rented sector across England is to build more homes. That is why I am glad that the Housing White Paper, which was published in February this year, outlined an ambitious plan to fix the broken housing market and build the homes Britain needs. This includes getting the right homes built in the right places, speeding up house building, and diversifying the market. I was encouraged that further proposals in the recent Budget mean the Government is on track to increase the housing supply by 300,000 a year."

Green Belt Development

In response to the campaign on development on the Green Belt, David said:

"I do not want to speculate about the contents of the Budget. However, I know this is a very important issue for you and understand the Treasury is aware of the strength of feeling surrounding it. I will be following the Chancellor’s speech closely for any developments in this area.

While it is up to local authorities to determine the development of new homes through local plans, I would like to reassure you that steps have been taken to protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development.

The Housing White Paper, published earlier this year, emphasised the Government’s continued commitment to protecting the Green Belt. Ministers want to amend and add to national policy to make it clear that: Green Belt boundaries should only be amended in exceptional circumstances, when local authorities can demonstrate they have fully examined all other reasonable options for meeting their identified housing requirements; and where land is removed from the Green Belt, local policies should require the impact to be offset.

Planning policy also guarantees strong protection for National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The Green Belt also enjoys protection against erosion from caravan and traveller sites. The Government also has an ambitious programme to bring brownfield land back into use in England and is working closely with local authorities to drive this forward. This will ensure that development is prioritised on brownfield sites rather than at the expense of our countryside."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA)

In response to the campaign on the Local Housing Allowance (LHA), David said:

"While I appreciate your concerns on this issue, reforms to Housing Benefit are a central part of the Government’s plan to create a welfare system that supports the most vulnerable and is fair to taxpayers.

Around £24 billion a year is spent on Housing Benefit to support people with their housing costs, with over £800 million in Discretionary Housing Payments provided to local authorities to help support vulnerable claimants.

In addition, I am assured that around 30 per cent of potential savings from the LHA freeze will be used to create further Targeted Affordability Funding to help tenants in those areas where local housing allowance rates have diverged the most from local rents. This has already been used to increase 48 LHA rates by 3 per cent in areas with high rental costs this year. Further funding will be available for this purpose in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Ultimately, however, the key to improving affordability in the private rented sector across England is to build more homes. That is why I am glad that the Housing White Paper, which was published in February this year, outlined an ambitious plan to fix the broken housing market and build the homes Britain needs. This includes getting the right homes built in the right places, speeding up house building, and diversifying the market. I was delighted at the Prime Minister’s recent announcement to increase the affordable housing budget by £2 billion to more than £9 billion."

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Grenfell tower block fire

David has recently received a number of emails regarding the Grenfell tower block fire and thought you might be interested in seeing his response. 

"It is impossible to comprehend what everybody affected by the fire has been going through. The response of people who have provided help, compassion and support has once again shown the fantastic spirit of London and the best of Britain. I also pay tribute to the emergency services, who put their lives in danger to save others.

I completely understand the shock, concern, anger and frustration that exists as a result of this. The Prime Minister has ordered a full, judge-led public inquiry, which will give people the answers they deserve. The Prime Minister gave a statement to the House of Commons and you can read her full statement here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-commons-statement-on-grenfell-tower-22-june-2017

The Grenfell Tower Recovery task force was set up in the aftermath of the tragedy to ensure a coordinated response. It is chaired by the Prime Minister and includes representation from a number of government departments. The government is working with the local authority to ensure that people who lost their homes in the disaster are rehoused in the local area at the earliest opportunity (within 3 weeks at the latest). The government is also working with local authorities, housing associations, fire and rescue services, and fire safety experts to ensure that all similar buildings are checked and that residents are assured of this.

A new £5 million Grenfell Tower Residents’ Discretionary Fund has also been made immediately available to help those who had to flee their homes. Every household whose home has been destroyed will receive a guaranteed £5,500 minimum down payment from the fund. This money could be used to cover loss of possessions, funerals and emergency supplies. I understand that the fund will be kept under review and will increase if necessary."