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Rented homes in Lichfield and Burntwood will be “even more unaffordable” for young people

A report has warned that rented accommodation in Lichfield and Burntwood is set to become “even more unaffordable” for young people.

The review of housing services as part of Lichfield District Council’s Fit for the Future programme highlighted that it could face a sharp rise in the number of 18 to 21-year-olds needing support.

There was also a warning that single people were particularly at risk of homelessness due to welfare changes.

“The July 2015 budget announced a number of proposals that will effectively freeze or reduce the income of working-age households seeking welfare assistance, particularly affecting young people aged 18 to 21 and families with dependent children,” the report says.

“As a consequence of the changes, the private rented sector in the district is expected to become even more unobtainable and unaffordable.

“The impact of previous welfare reforms is felt to have not fully impacted on frontline services, but one of the changes already noted nationally is the increasing complexity of homelessness cases, and rising demand from single people for whom there is no duty to accommodate.

“Lichfield has already begun to experience this and if this continues, the capacity of our housing options service to prevent homelessness for such complex cases will be further stretched.”

There was also a warning that the impact of national policies was likely to be felt on the ground in Lichfield and Burntwood.

“The government has made a number of proposals in relation to the social housing sector including extending the Right to Buy to housing association tenants, and reducing rents which, if introduced is likely to result in fewer affordable homes being developed and less investment in community-related activity,” the report adds.

“The strategy team therefore need to work closely with housing providers to assess the effects that this will have on the social housing stock in the district.

“The government also proposes to restrict the tax relief landlords of residential property can get which may result in even higher rents.

“This, combined with new welfare reforms, suggests that access to housing in the private rented sector for working-age benefit claimants will become even more problematic – high rent levels in the sector in Lichfield have already been identified as a challenge to meeting housing needs.”

The report will be discussed at a meeting of the council’s community, housing and health overview and scrutiny committee on Monday (September 7).

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