Only 0.6% of Birmingham rental properties are affordable to people on housing benefits

A major investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed that the majority of rental properties are unaffordable to those on housing benefits in the West Midlands

Large swathes of Birmingham and the West Midlands have no rental properties which are affordable to those on housing benefits, according to new research.

A study from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has analysed tens of thousands of rental properties across Britian which shows 98% of all those advertised over one month (July 2022) were beyond the means of people in receipt of Universal Credit or housing benefit.

As the cost of living crisis bites and rental prices skyrocket, the Bureau analysed details from more than 40,000 rental adverts for two bedroom properties, comparing them to the Local Housing Allowance rate - the rate at which housing benefit is calculated for those renting privately.

The Bureau collected data on 40,534 two-bed properties advertised across Great Britain in the month of July, 2022. Of those 40,534 properties, 967 were affordable on LHA (2.4%) In other words, 97.6% were unaffordable.

Affordable housing in EnglandAffordable housing in England
Affordable housing in England

What does the data show for the West Midlands?

In total, in the West Midlands Met County, there were just 14 affordable properties out of 1,614 listings (0.9%)

In Birmingham, just five affordable properties were found out of 852 listings (0.6%) - this was the worst rate in the region.

In the Black Country, thre were three affordable properties out of 363 listings (0.8%), and in Solihull, there were just two affordable property out of 79 listings (2.5%).

What does the data show in England and the rest of the country?

In 19 different areas across Great Britain - including Central London, Swindon, Ipswich and South Devon - the Bureau did not find a single affordable two-bed property throughout all of July.

Major cities like Bristol and Cardiff had just one affordable property advertised during the entire month. In both instances a let was agreed and the ad removed within a week of it appearing.

In Central Greater Manchester, there were 19 affordable properties out of 1,068 listings (1.8%), and in Southern Greater Manchester there were 6. In total in Greater Manchester, 30 affordable properties were found out of 1,974 listings (1.5%).

The cost of living crisis is affecting millions across the UKThe cost of living crisis is affecting millions across the UK
The cost of living crisis is affecting millions across the UK

Which areas had the most affordable properties?

The areas which had the most affordable properties were North Cumbria (14.7%), Aberdeen and Shire (14.6%) and West Cheshire (14%). But all of these still fell way under the 30% markers.

‘The Prime Minister needs to get a grip on housing’

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “These findings back up what we are seeing in our frontline services every day - that finding a safe home if you are on a low income is now like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Housing benefit should be the safety net that stops people becoming homeless, but it’s frozen at 2020 levels leaving renters desperately trying to make up the shortfall.

“The number of households in England found to be homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless at the start of this year jumped by 11% in three months. Now, record-high private rents and rocketing prices are leaving even more renters fighting to keep a roof over their heads. The housing emergency is at the core of the cost-of-living crisis, but it is being ignored.

“The new Prime Minister needs to get a grip on housing before even more people lose their homes this winter. Housing benefit must be restored, otherwise struggling families, who’ve got nothing left to cut back on, will have no hope of paying private rents.”

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