UNIVERSAL Credit recipients are being priced out of the vast majority of rented homes in the region, a new study say.

According to the charity Crisis, single people, couples and small families on Universal Credit are unable to afford 83 per cent of rented homes in the South East because of a persistent shortfall between the benefit and the true cost of renting.

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The organisations says many local areas are almost entirely unaffordable, with just two per cent of rented homes in Oxford affordable for single recipients under 35. The figure rises to 10 and 12 per cent for small families in two bedroom properties, and over 35s in one bed.

It adds that many on the welfare scheme are being left to choose between paying for essentials like food and bills or paying their rent, increasing the risk of homelessness in the most severe cases.

Crisis Skylight Oxford Director Kate Cocker said: “We all deserve the dignity and stability that a safe and decent home provides.

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"Yet the widening gulf between Universal Credit and private rents is leaving many in the South East living on a knife-edge.

"More and more people are forced to make impossible choices."

Speaking as the organisation launched its Cover the Cost campaign, she continued: “Universal Credit can be a tool to prevent homelessness, but only with the right investment – and that’s why we are launching this campaign today.

"We need to see Government bring Universal Credit back in step with the true cost of renting. This will drastically reduce council spending and will provide greater reassurance to private landlords. Most importantly, it will stop people becoming homeless in the first place while giving those on the lowest incomes the safe and stable homes they need to build their futures.”