Young people are being forced to choose between racking up rent debts and risking their health due to restrictive housing benefit rules.

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) warns that under 35s who are relying on housing benefit to pay their rent for the first time have found that the shared accommodation rate only covers the cost of a room in a shared house.

It says this will force many into cheaper, shared housing with strangers, creating anxiety for those worrying about being infected with Covid at a time when people are being urged to spend more time at home.

In a letter to Welfare Minister Will Quince (pictured), NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle has urged him to adopt the Social Security Advisory Committee’s recent recommendation to suspend the shared accommodation rate rule, for at least a year.

Beadle (pictured, below) says it’s unacceptable that younger renters are being forced to choose between building debts or compromising their health during a pandemic.

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“While the vast majority of landlords have done everything they can to support renters whose finances have been hit due to the virus, it cannot be right that landlords and tenants are left to muddle through without greater support,” he adds.

“If money can be found to subsidise meals out, the Government must find the finances needed to support tenants, and in turn landlords, to pay off rent arrears, sustain tenancies and protect people’s health.”

The call comes as Government statistics show a significant rise in the number of younger Universal Credit claimants; in the four weeks to 8th October, the proportion of claimants aged between 16 and 24 was 27%, up from 21% in the four weeks to 12th March.   

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