StepChange reacts to Autumn Statement
22 November 2023
StepChange has welcomed the unfreezing of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and uprating of benefits in line with September’s inflation figure, however, with no confirmation on further cost of living support for households, the charity says it’s important the Government doesn’t give with one hand and take with the other.
Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange Debt Charity, said:
“The unfreezing of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will be a welcome boost to many renters unable to keep pace with a frenzied rental market. We’ve seen record rent rises over the past year, and housing benefit was simply not keeping up. Our recent polling revealed that more than one in three private renters are relying on credit to afford rent. It’s also good to see the Chancellor recognising the need to uprate benefits in line with inflation. However, it’s important that the government doesn’t give with one hand and take with the other.
“Those on the lowest incomes feel the effect of high inflation the most, and there was no confirmation from the Chancellor that any cost of living support would be extended beyond April 2024, which is a blow to financially vulnerable households. This includes the Household Support Fund, which is due to end in March and is an essential lifeline for people struggling to make ends meet. It must be made permanent.
“Energy bills also remain much higher than they were two years ago, with the average amount of energy arrears among new clients StepChange clients rising steadily in this time. Support, both in terms of a coordinated write off of debts incurred over the past two years for those who can't pay, alongside a social tariff for those on low incomes, is badly needed. Without interventions on energy debt and a real terms rise in benefits the cost of living crisis will cast a long-shadow on household finances for years to come.”