Rent rise beckons, warns councillor

IPSWICH: Thousands of private tenants in Ipswich could face rent rises because of budget changes introduced by the new government, it was warned today.

The claim came from Labour councillors in the town – but Ipswich’s Tory MP Ben Gummer said the changes were necessary to keep the lid on housing benefit costs and pledged to try to ensure no one would be left out of pocket.

Housing group Shelter drew attention to the impact of changes outlined by Chancellor George Osborne in June’s budget. Their figures showed that tenants could face monthly increases of between �12 (for a one-bed home) to �396 (for a five-bed home) as a result of changes to the Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

The leader of the Labour group on Ipswich council, David Ellesmere, said the changes would affect the poorest and most vulnerable people in society – with 2,595 tenants likely to lose out.

Mr Ellesmere said: “These shocking figures show that the government’s claim to ‘fairness’ is a sick joke.

“More than 2,500 of the poorest people in Ipswich are going to have hundreds of pounds a year snatched from them – money they can ill-afford to lose.”

However Mr Gummer said the government had to make changes to the LHA because the cost of housing benefit had increased by 50 per cent in real terms over the last decade. He said: “As a nation we spend more on housing benefits than we do on universities and education combined – and at a time of belt-tightening this has to be reined in.

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“The formula that had been applied was a charter for landlords to keep increasing their rents safe in the knowledge the state would pay up.

“That had to change. I hope this will lead to landlords being more reasonable, although the government has made extra money available for local authorities to help with people in particular distress.”

n Have you been affected by the benefit changes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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