Shelter reveals worrying impact on families in the South East.

Housing charity Shelter has revealed the potentially devastating impact of government plans to freeze housing benefit for private renters, with new research showing almost 58,000 working families in the South East could be affected.

Housing benefit helps families on lower incomes to pay their rent, and is already restricted to cover rents in the cheapest third of privately rented homes. The freeze, which comes into force next April, will see housing benefit frozen at its current level until 2020.

Worryingly, this comes at a time when private rents are climbing, outstripping average wage growth in many parts of the region, and making it increasingly difficult for families to find anywhere they can afford to live.

By analysing rent rises across the region, the housing and homelessness charity found that in four out of ten areas working families would face a shortfall in support of more than £100 a month by 2020.

The report also identified worrying ‘blackspots’ where working families could face extreme rent shortfalls after support is frozen.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said: “This looming freeze could push thousands of working families in the South East to the brink. Already struggling to bridge the gap between relentless rent rises and welfare cuts, many of those hit will face an uphill battle to keep a roof over their children’s heads, and put food on the table.

“Deliberately hacking away at the support for working families is clearly the wrong road to take. If the government wants to cut the welfare bill they should concentrate on building genuinely affordable homes that families on lower incomes can actually afford to live in.”

Anyone who is worried about losing their home can get free and independent, expert advice from Shelter at www.shelter.org.uk/advice or by calling the helpline on 0808 800 4444.

Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at