The Shared Accommodation Rate
The Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) used to apply to single people aged under 25 on Housing Benefit in the private rented sector. These claimants were restricted to the rate for a single room in a shared house, rather than the rate for a self-contained one bedroom property. We know that the SAR causes considerable problems for young people, with many unable to secure or sustain affordable accommodation and left facing shortfalls, arrears and homelessness.
Extension of Shared Accommodation Rate
In January 2012, the Government extended this lower rate to claimants under the age of 35. Drastic cuts to housing benefit averaging £41 mean that most affected by this cut will lose their homes.
The cuts mean that 25 to 34 year-olds' only hope is now to find a room in a shared house but there is only a limited pool of this type of accommodation available. What's more, even if they find a property, for most people, this lower Shared Accommodation Rate doesn't cover the rent, causing hardship and risking homelessness.
Crisis campaign success
Unfair extension raised in the House of Commons
In February 2011, Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, Jon Cruddas, secured an adjournment debate in the House of Commons, raising the real problems behind this decision and urging the Minister for Work and Pensions, Steve Webb, to rethink. This was fantastic in raising the profile of our campaign as we continued to push for change.
Key concessions won
In July 2011, the Government announced two key exemptions from the plans. Single 25-34 year olds who have lived in a homeless hostel for more than three months will still to be entitled to a modest one bed flat.
The Government has at last recognised the risk that the alternative - of unsuitable shared accommodation - could lead to repeat homelessness. The other group who will not be expected to live in shared houses are single 25-34 year old ex-offenders who continue to pose a risk to others. For the safety of others who share, we of course welcome this.
We remain very disappointed that the Government has gone ahead with this damaging cut. Yet it is significant there has now been some recognition that low quality shared accommodation is totally inappropriate for people trying to put their lives back together after homelessness.
Crisis campaign on Shared Accommodation Rate
- Download our policy briefing on the Shared Accommodation Rate
- Do the maths to work out what would happen to you under this cut
- Read the adjournment debate about Shared Accommodation Rate secured by Jon Cruddas MP
- Read our submission to the Social Security Advisory Committee on the proposed extension of the Shared Accommodation Rate.
Shared Accommodation Rate media coverage
We have had over forty local and national media mentions for our Shared Accomodation Rate campaign in just the last couple of months. See below for a selection of these stories causing a stir in the press.
- Watch Dave Rowntree talking to the Daily Politics about the Shared Accommodation Rate.
- Read our joint letter with 16 other organisations to Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud, as featured in the Guardian
- Shared Room Rate change risks homelessness in Inside Housing
- Benefit change ‘will make young homeless' in Inside Housing
- 'Many claimants said to face homeless threat' in the Financial Times
- 12,000 young people could lose their home in benefits cut in the London Evening Standard
- This housing benefit cut would push many out of their homes to where? in Guardian's Comment is Free
- Charity benefits warning: cut will make people homeless in The Glaswegian
- Thousands of young people face losing their home with benefit cuts in Inside Housing
- Housing benefit changes ‘could force 11,000 disabled people out of homes in the Guardian
- Are the Government's welfare policies creating more homeless people? in The Independent
- Changes to the shared accommodation rate will force thousands of vulnerable people out of their one-bedroom flats and into houseshares in Inside Housing
Crisis research on Shared Accommodation Rate
Crisis commissioned Julie Rugg, David Rhodes and Steve Wilcox from the University of York to conduct a review of the current and potential challenges of the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR) of housing benefit and the impact of its extension to include claimants aged up to 35.
The report, Unfair Shares: A report on the impact of extending the Shared Accommodation Rate of Housing Benefit, raised concerns over the availability of shared properties both now and if SAR is extended. There were also concerns over the impact sharing had on claimants' ability to stay in their homes, particularly for vulnerable groups.