High rents are being blamed for pushing families into poverty.
Research by the National Housing Federation (NHF) found that 53% of private rented sector households in poverty – defined as having an income below 60% of the national median – were not in poverty before paying their rent.
In the private rented sector, 44% of households with one or more children were in poverty after their rent is paid, while a third were living in poverty even though one or more adults in the household work full time, the research claims.
The NHF suggested that savings would be made in housing benefit and tenants would be helped to get out of poverty if they were offered homes at a social rather than market rent.
Using Valuation Office Agency (VOA) data, the NHF claims tenants in poverty could pay a social rent of £415.53 on average in England compared with £820 on the open market.
These figures are, however, based on ONS and VOA data from 2015 and 2016.
Kate Henderson, chief executive of the NHF, said: “It is a disgrace that in one of the wealthiest countries in the world we cannot provide our children with a secure and affordable home.
“The critical lack of social housing is pushing more and more families into poverty by forcing them into insecure privately rented homes they cannot afford.
“It’s so obvious that we need to be building more social housing and the Government has a duty to our children to invest in this. This means increasing funding for social housing and urgently reforming the way that land is sold in this country.
“We will only be able to build desperately needed social homes for children living in poverty if housing associations have access to land instead of the current situation where they are forced to bid directly against private developers who make millions from luxury properties.”
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) said some of the blame for tenants being pushed into poverty should be put at the Government’s door.
Chris Town, vice-chair of the RLA, said: “The biggest driver of poverty in the private rented sector remains the Government’s freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates.
“Support for housing costs is simply failing to keep up with the realities of rented housing and we call on the Government to use its spending review to drop the freeze.”