IDS’ housing benefit u-turn masks full horror of reforms

IDS will drop plans to impose a 10% cut in housing benefit on anyone unemployed for more than a year. But the Welfare Reform bill includes other pernicious reforms.


Iain Duncan Smith confirmed on the Today programme that the Government would drop plans to impose a 10 per cent cut in housing benefit on anyone unemployed for more than a year but denied that Nick Clegg was instrumental in the u-turn. But the Welfare Reform bill published today still includes a series of pernicious reforms to housing benefit.

Research by London Councils has estimated that the entire package will lead to 82,000 families being “at risk of losing their homes“. Some of this will be mitigated by today’s climbdown but the main problem is the reduction in Local Housing Allowance falling from the median of local rents to the 30th percentile.

Research by Declan Gaffney for Left Foot Forward and used by the Observer showed that:

“the change with the biggest numerical impact in the medium term will be the move in October 2010 from setting maximum entitlements at 50 per cent of the local housing market to 30 per cent, which will lead to losses of on average £39 a month for some 775,000 households nationally…

“It is clear that while households in London will see the most severe losses, the impact will be felt in all regions, with the north west having the highest numbers of households affected after London.”

A briefing from Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, outlined that:

“We expect that many households will try to remain in their home and be forced to make financial sacrifices in order to do so. For those households already struggling to balance very tight budgets, a reduction in LHA will only push more of them over the edge, triggering a spiral of debt, eviction and homelessness. It will also force many households into overcrowded and sub-standard accommodation.”

Others have expressed concerns about switching indexation of Local Housing Allowance to the CPI inflation rate rather than to the cost of living. Shelter say:

“This is potentially very significant. Although rental costs are included in the CPI, the full impact of rent increases tends not to be reflected. This means the CPI may not increase at the same rate as average rents.

“To illustrate the point, over the period 1999 to 2007 the CPI increased by 15%, compared to a 44% increase in average rents. Had the LHA been set to increase in line with the CPI in 1999, it would be 20% below the level needed to rent the average property.”

The vast majority of housing benefit claimants are either pensioners, disabled people, those caring for a relative or hardworking people on low incomes, and only 1 in 8 people who receive housing benefit is unemployed.

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  • Trench

    I live on a council estate and if thy attempt to cut benefits to sty dwellers like me there will be wide scale unrest & rise in crime rate that will make the student riots look like Gay pride march .
    The only thing make the young kids lives bearable is Drugs th whole estate is on them take away their ablity to buy weed & your gonna have angry hiped up young kids roaming around who have no respect for people , property or the police .

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  • Robert

    If you live in a council estate then your paying the local rate, your not paying 50 or 60% over the council house rate.

    People forget the Labour brought in rules which stated council should only pay 10% above council rates for people in private rented property.

    But in areas like London some people are getting rents of £1,000 a week, the average is £14000 for a one bedroom flat thats a week.

    Some people OK only a minority are getting homes which are worth millions while people at the top of the housing list are given housing unfit.

    But all this is due in part to labour building sod all social housing.

    I’ve no problem of people who live a millionaires row going into a poor council house, because I’ve lived in a shit hole most of my life, and it was me and my wife that made this house livable

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  • Peter

    It also needs pointing out that the Tories are getting rid of the £15 excess from April as well. In fact I’ve just got back from my full-time voluntary job (just want to make it clear I’m not a scrounger I’m actually desperately seeking work!) to find a letter from Haringey council informing me I’ll no longer receive it from June.

    I live in a private 1 bed flat that costs £230 a week, it was the cheapest I could find in the area, and I moved into it when I was working. Losing the £15 excess will mean I have to find an extra £60 a month to cover my rent from June this year. This is totally impossible for me, especially since the squeeze on bills, food, travel etc. seems to be increasing exponentially.

    So what am I meant to do? Even if I wanted to move to a cheaper place my savings have gone so there’s no way I can find a deposit. I don’t have wealthy parents who can help me out. Even if I take any old crap low-paid job (which is looking more and more likely) it’ll still be pretty much impossible to pay my rent. Why should I be made homeless because the bankers f**ked up? I just don’t get it.

    And in reply to Robert, talking about averages in London really isn’t very helpful, unless you’re a Daily Mail journo and you wish to hoodwink the ignorant, as the extremes are so profound they don’t represent reality for ordinary people. Well done for making your council house livable, but pity those of us who’ve got no chance of ever EVER getting into a council house (that’s most people btw). Count yourself flippin’ lucky.

    PS. Some of the flats on my street are still council, one of my neighbours has been in his years and his rent is under £100 a week. Where’s the justice?

  • Mr. Sensible

    Like I said earlier, the whole welfare reform agenda is just pandering to the Daily Mail.

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  • Trench

    Both Labour/Tories have been conducting witch hunt gainst the jobless & benefits via the press /media the long term jobless are now being used as scape goat for the reccession simular to the Nazis who blamed the Jews during the German depression in 1930s .
    when the cuntry was seen to be doing fine and people were better off includng those in work all be it living on their credit ratings ,noone cared about the benefits social underclasses now thanks to the press everyone is turning on them because they are the ones with human rights , cival liberties or laws to protect them , its time some sort of union was set up to protect us !!

  • S Grist

    All of the current policies reflect the commonly held prejudice that unemployment is to be blamed on the unemployed. We are told they are “refusing to accept jobs”, that “work doesn’t pay” (ie benefits are supposedly too high.)

    The simple fact that neither the media nor politicians are willing to acknowledge, is that the root cause of long-term unemployment is the refusal by employers to offer work to anyone who seems to have been out of work for very long. Employers are spoilt for choice, They are not running charities,so we cannot blame them for this behaviour, which merely reflects the misconceptions peddled by the media and by all politicians, regardless of their party allegiances. It is still perfectly legal to discriminate unfairly against the long-term unemployed on the basis of this prejudice which provides a convenient, if socially irresponsible filter in the job selection process.

    Unless this state of affairs is remedied by legislation, there will continue to be an underclass of decent individuals who find themselves permanently excluded from work, in spite of the fact that many of us are highly qualified and experienced. The latest batch of policies seem calculated to drive this underclass into abject destitution – and presumably under the wheels of a train or into the river.

  • Robert

    For god sake do not bring Hitler or the Jews into this.

    yes both Labour and the Tories have been doing this for a while now, but sadly the people of this country have decided the media is right and sadly we are all scroungers….

  • Poppy

    Ah yes. The Tories and the right-wing press in league together. The Tories have made sure there are no jobs by cutting everything in sight whilst the right-wing press bash the unemployed and call them “scroungers”. As a soon-to-be scrounger, I know that there are few jobs out there. I’ve been applying for jobs since last July, am well-qualified, got interviews but no further. I am hanging on by a thread in my current job but don’t hold out any hope of getting another one once I get the boot. Capitalism has screwed me totally (I was unemployed under the last Tory government) and the employers are having a field day – workers are so desperate they will take anything, and work for terrible pay and conditions. Presumably the Tories and their banker friends are rubbing their hands with glee.

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