Posts Tagged ‘social security’

Cuts in Housing Benefit will cause hardship and increase homelessness, says Karen Buck

22/07/2010, 12:53:48 PM

Beveridge, intellectual giant, architect of the post war welfare state, threw in the towel when it came to sorting out rent subsidy. The Beveridge report argued, not unreasonably, that any coherent national system of subsidising housing costs for those who could not afford them was not feasible while rents varied so greatly between different part of the United Kingdom.  The problem which confounded him has, if anything, intensified over the years. In the last three decades, to add to the intractable problem of regional variations in costs, governments of both colours pursued a deliberate policy of allowing Housing Benefit to ‘take the strain’ generated by decline in the provision of social rented housing.   Today, housing need is one of the great policy challenges of the century, with demand for affordable homes far outstripping supply and subsidy, in the form of Housing Benefit, going instead into the pockets of private landlords supplying the roof over the head of an ever increasing number of low income households.

Taken in isolation from wider housing policy, one can understand the concern at the rising bill, and recognise the sense of injustice amongst working families at the small number of very extreme cases of households claiming Housing Benefit in our most expensive neighbourhoods. Intuitively, it seems as though we have got it wrong and the system is ripe for reform.

Yet seeing where a policy is wrong does not necessarily help us get it right. The measures set out in the Coalition budget for cutting subsidy to low income households is draconian, runs counter to all attempts to create mixed communities and could easily create a crisis of homelessness.

To summarise the proposals, a cap on the highest  rents (mostly in  London) will be followed by a reduction in Local Housing Allowances everywhere in the country, with future up-rating limited too.  Working age households in private and social housing alike will see their benefit cut if they are deemed to have any spare bedrooms, and, in 2013 anyone on Jobseeker’s Allowance for a year loses 10% of their benefit.


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