A GOVERNMENT announcement that housing benefit payments will rise by £10 is 'totally derisory', says Stroud District Councillor Chas Townley.

This week Will Quince, minister of welfare delivery, revealed Local Housing Allowance rates are to be increased to be in line with the rate of inflation from April.

The change could result in 900,000 people seeing their benefits increase and will see the amount of housing benefit received by claimants rise by £10 per month.

Chas Townley, chair of Stroud District Council's housing committee said the increase was 'disappointing'.

He said: "An increase of 1.7 per cent in the Local Housing Allowance rate for Housing Benefit and Universal Credit is totally derisory.

"The level was originally based on 50 per cent average of actual rents - later reduced to 30 per cent - but for the last four years it has been frozen.

"Increasingly residents have to rely on private tenancies due to lack of council and housing association homes.

"As a consequence people on benefits are having to make up the difference as the rent level is significantly higher than rent allowance.” said Chas Townley Labour Chair of the Housing Committee at Stroud District Council.

“We will look carefully at the situation to see if there are any steps that can be taken to present a case to Government to increase the rate,” he added.

Before 2016 the Local Housing Allowance was based on enabling a tenant to afford a rent their area below which 30 per cent of homes available should be cheaper, and 70 per cent more expensive.

However, the gap between what claimants receive in housing benefit and the amount they have to pay towards has increased over the years.

In 2018, research by Chartered Institute of Housing found that more than 90 per cent of allowance rates across the UK failed to cover the cheapest rents.

Responding to Mr Townley's comments, Siobhan Baillie, MP for Stroud said: "'Increasing the Local Housing Allowance delivers on our manifesto commitment to end the benefit freeze and the increase is in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

"It means around 900,000 people will see their housing support increase.

"This Government continues to spend around £95 billion a year on working age benefit, including around £23 billion to help people with their housing costs.

"I want to see all the population able to access to a mix of types of housing options in the right locations across the district, taking into account practical ways we can address the climate emergency with new homes.

"We should all work together to achieve this."