FAMILIES on Universal Credit are at risk of losing their homes as rents soar far beyond what housing benefits can pay for, a fresh report has revealed.
A damning study from homeless charity Crisis said the welfare safety net was no longer covering the sky-high rents in Britain today – thanks to cuts to local budgets.
Getty – Contributor2 Brits on Universal Credit aren't able to keep up with soaring rents
But if more money were put into the local housing budgets then Universal Credit would be able to help end rough sleeping for good, it said.
Ninety-two per cent of areas across Britain were not affordable to single people, a couple or a small family, their research revealed.
The worst areas were in the Midlands – where Brits are unable to afford almost three in four homes because of the shortfall.
Instead, hard-pressed families were having to fork out the difference of hundreds of pounds a week from their other benefits in order to keep a roof over their heads.
The charity called on the Work and Pensions Secretary to fight for more cash to plug the gap as they launched a fresh campaign.
Matt Green, Director of Crisis Skylight Birmingham, said: "More and more people are forced to make impossible choices between keeping up with the rent and paying for essentials like food and bills, all the while knowing that falling behind with payments could cost them their homes.
The Sun wants to Make Universal Credit Work
UNIVERSAL Credit replaces six benefits with a single monthly payment.
One million people are already receiving it and by the time the system is fully rolled out in 2023, nearly 7 million will be on it.
But there are big problems with the flagship new system – it takes 5 weeks to get the first payment and it could leave some families worse off by thousands of pounds a year.
And while working families can claim back up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, they must find the money to pay for childcare upfront – we’ve heard of families waiting up to 6 months for the money.
Working parents across the country told us they’ve been unable to take on more hours – or have even turned down better paid jobs or more hours because of the amount they get their benefits cut.
It’s time to Make Universal Credit work. We want the Government to:
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"Universal Credit can be a tool to prevent homelessness, but only with the right investment.
"We need to see Government bring Universal Credit back in step with the true cost of renting."
In 2011 the Local Housing Allowance budgets were cut, and in 2016 it was frozen until 2020.
Amber Rudd has already vowed to try and increase the local housing allowance rates in the upcoming spending review, The Sun revealed last month.
David, 25, from Croydon, revealed how he has to fork out an extra £40 a month to cover the rent that isn't paid by the Local Housing Allowance rates.
"I make it work, but it's right. You have to shop smart, like with food, I freeze a lot of things," he said. "But the electricity is a killer."
2 Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd wants to increase the Local Housing Allowances
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Crisis called for more social housing to increase the supply of affordable homes and invest more cash into Local Housing Allowance rates.
The report said: "With adequate investment and the right policies in place, Universal Credit can be one of the best homelessness prevention tools at the Government's disposal in order to end homelessness and rough sleeping for good."
A Government spokesperson said: "Each year we spend around £23billion to help people with their housing costs. We have targeted extra funding at low-income households in areas where rents are placing most pressure on budgets, and given local authorities £1billion since 2010 to further support vulnerable claimants.
"With Universal Credit, housing costs can be paid directly to landlords to help people manage their money and many people take up this support.
"We continue to tackle the root causes of homelessness, committing £1.2billion of funding so far, as well as building more than 400,000 affordable homes since 2010."
Trailer for Skint Britain shows Hartlepool struggling to get to grips with Universal Credit