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Faith and Policy - Housing benefit cuts - caught in a trap

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Theme: Faith and Policy
Posted by: Bob Finch of Churches' Regional Commission in the North East on Thu 22nd Jul 10 10:41
Attention All Members  
Subject Housing benefit cuts - caught in a trap
Message

The government plans to reduce public spending by £61 billion include measures to reduce the housing benefit bill by £4.225 billion. All well and good, you might say, we need to reduce the housing benefit bill. But what does this mean in practice?

For those who have been receiving job seekers allowance for more than one year, housing benefit will be reduced by 10%

The Local Housing Allowance (the local rate used to set individual housing benefit) will be reduced from the 50th percentile to the 30th. Basically, the local authority lines up the all the rent values in order and then take the one at 30% along the way. So, for a two bedroom flat they would look at all the rents for two bedroom flats in the are and pick the one 30% along the way between the lowest and the highest.

The government also proposes to reduce housing benefit for those in accommodation deemed too large for their needs. Pity those who have put down roots in an area, living near to family support and are now penalised. How many elderly people continue to live in the family accommodation they have occupied for many years?

Tenants will have to pay any shortfall in housing benefit or find cheaper (and perhaps worse) accommodation in an area they do not want to live in. Whatever happened to choice? 

People receiving housing benefit (those in work and out of work) will have few or no options. They might not be able to afford to pay the shortfall. Moving to cheaper social housing is not a realistic option due to high demand and long waiting lists. Buying property may be impossible as they might not be able to afford a mortgage, or in deed raise the deposit now required by most lenders.

What are your views? Are the cuts necessary? Are they fair? How might they affect your community?

For data concerning the cuts around the country go to:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/jul/15/housing-benefit-cuts-local-analysis




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