The government will tell you that their policies mean housing benefit can pay for the lowest 1/3 of the market.
This ignores the thing where most landlords simply won't take housing benefit in the first place.
But it's also just plain wrong.
I go looking for flats that are within budget, I just don't find them.
Norwich Local Housing Allowance for a single person (over 35 I think, old enough to live alone by benefit rules) is £91.15 per week.
... ignore that they list it per week when rent is per month, that's just helpful, but if you times it by 52 and divide by 12 you get 394.98 per month.
A quick check of Rightmove... well, you have to tell it £400 per calendar month, which is a teensy more than is actually covered, and then it will give you back house shares at that price, or studio flats where studio means a bed in the kitchen, but there's 110 of them. If you want an actual bed room in your own place, which is what the money is meant to cover, there's maybe 45, probably less if you read the descriptions. In the whole of Norwich. Which is quite big. But Norwich has 321 non-commercial properties to rent right now, 292 that don't say they're flat shares in the categories, so that looks like 1/3.
But the BBC have a 'Where can I afford to live' page. Type in the precise rent, choose the lowest 25% of rents - which is even cheaper than the government's 1/3, so should totally work - and see that Norwich... is in fact not affordable. Their lowest 1/4 is £400, half way price £465, so 1/3 will be in between somewhere. That local housing allowance does not in fact cover it. According to the BBC.
Somebody's numbers do not add up.
As far as I can find, most of Norfolk and Norwich have the same LHA. Since the lowest quarter of one bed rents goes as low as £395 (basically that £394.98 a month) in several of the districts of Norfolk, maybe, if Norfolk calculated it once for everywhere, it makes some sense... but probably not, and even if so, not terribly helpful for people trying to live in the city, even if they can afford the coast. Yarmouth is £375, but their LHA only covers £368 of that, so that's not massively helpful. Especially since these are 1/4 figures, not 1/3.
So I go back to the articles again and I find the exact quote is "housing benefit provides a safety net which ensures that up to a third of private properties in most areas are affordable".
Up to? Well that weasels out of that one. Anything can be 'up to' as long as there's even one place where that works.
Poke the numbers how you want, the housing benefit just doesn't pay for a decent place to live, or even a crappy place to live in a great many places.
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