The chief executive of a Leeds-based housing association has appealed to new Housing Secretary Simon Clarke to be an advocate for extra financial help for those left most exposed by the hike in energy prices.
Unity Homes and Enterprise owns and manages 1,350 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds across Leeds, including in Armley and Pudsey.
Prime Minister Liz Truss announced an energy bill freeze shortly after entering No 10 this month. The price cap, which was due to rise to £3,549 a year in October, will now remain at £2,500 for two years, and there will also be a £150 disability payment for those eligible.
But Unity chief executive Cedric Boston said more still needed to be done to help the most vulnerable in society. He said: “I welcome the support the Government has pledged to bring forward but the fact remains that average energy bills have doubled in just 12 months.
“This will have a devastating impact on individuals and families on the lowest incomes, including a considerable proportion of housing association tenants.
“Such a major hit on limited household budgets comes in the midst of a spiralling cost of living crisis with inflation seemingly out of control.
“I appeal to Simon Clarke, the new Housing Secretary, to be an advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable at the heart of the Government’s decision-making as we approach an incredibly difficult winter.
“This should include allowing those on housing benefit, who Ministers say they want to help, to retain the additional support received from the proposed social housing rent cap rather than the Treasury clawing it back to central funds.”
My Boston called on a rise in the benefit cap to enable households in receipt to meet inflationary rent increases. He added: “Further, there can be no excuse for annual benefits for individuals and families not to go up in line with inflation.
“Unity will always do everything we can to safeguard the wellbeing of local communities, but the Government must commit to supporting us and our tenants in the short, medium and long-term.”