Welfare reforms and bedroom tax

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London Assembly Labour Group Member Dr Onkar Sahota

BENEFIT CAP

 

Research indicates  residents in Brent will suffer the most from the new tax

The household benefit cap from April 2013, the total amount of benefits that can be received by any out of work family limited to a maximum amount of £500 per week for single parents and couples with children, and £350 per week for single people. This covers all benefits applied by the local authority via a reduction in housing benefit.

From October 2013, households moving into Universal Credit will be subject to a different funding regime.

2400 residents in Brent will be affected by the bedroom tax and could face evictions despite a shortage of properties enabling them to downsize.

Brent council’s housing Cllr Janice long told the times they are aiming to assist affected residents by helping them to swap properties with other tenants. Brent council residents will suffer the most financial loss. A study carried out by Sheffield Hallam University showed that the cuts will result in residents losing £150m in benefit income a year the highest in the city.

Professor Steve Fothergill, who led the research from Sheffield Hallam’s centre for regional economic and social research alongside colleague Professor Tina Beatty said: “Our figures also show that the coalition governments is presiding over national welfare reforms that will impact principally on individuals and communities outside its own Political heartlands.”http://www.shu.ac.uk/research/cresr/sites/shu.ac.uk/files/hitting-poorest-places-hardest_0.pdf

Brent residents will lose the biggest amount of money. Brent council admits it cannot rule out eviction for those who fall into rent arrears. Council or social housing tenants in receipt of housing benefit will face a reduction if they have a spare bedroom. The rent payments reduced by 14% for one spare bedroom and 25 % for two or more.

Furthermore, Brent Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Brent Community law Centre told the times that the changes will have a devastating impact for the most susceptible in the borough. The £350m cut in legal aid will see law centres ‘which offer free’ advice pushed to the limits.

Jacqueline Carr, director for Brent CAB, told the times: “Many people are not only being refused benefits, but more fundamentally they are being prevented from accessing justice.”

Brent housing partnership will give £2000 to householders living in council properties if they move to smaller properties.

A tenant moving from three bedrooms to one bedroom is eligible to £4000. The maximum payment is £6000. A council report has identified 634 BHP tenants with spare rooms. The cash payments to be given to tenants after clearing outstanding rent arrears. In addition, handyman to help them pack on the day and removal costs of £500.

A new group Brent Housing action has promised to fight any evictions of tenants who fall into rent arrears. Brent fight back, the anti cuts campaign group and Brent community law centre, Kilburn unemployed workers group and Brent CAB have pledged their support.

Sujata Aurora a member of Brent fight back who attended the meeting said: “ I hope we will be able to challenge the implementation of policies locally as well as joining with other groups in other affected areas to campaign nationally.

This is what the people in Wembley high road thought about the controversial bedroom tax in Brent.

Nursery school teacher, Mary Ann, 50, from Wembley

“In my opinion if you are single and if only one bed room flat is needed. They should

rehouse them rather than pay the extra tax. In some cases, it is fair.”

Student health and social care, Chelsea Ann, 22, from Harrow

” It is not fair because it affects lots of people including disabled people. It affects loads of

families and my own friends they are disabled. It is a law, but it’ is unfair.”

Nurse, Chandrika Ratnayae, 45, from Wembley

“Bedroom tax is fair. People who are dependent on the state and not working should pay for the extra bedroom.”

Tourist, retired, Hendrik Van Groningen, 66

Bedroom tax. I don’t think. It is not well thought and the same as with Holland government. It acts on incidents and don’t have long term view. It is a rule it may work for few months and then you are getting into trouble, so the government they have to move in you are getting new problems as people are falling out of the boat. This is happening in Holland.

Bank job, Irimia Andreea, 35, from Wembley North

“I do not agree with the bedroom tax. We pay utilities and taxes. Therefore, from my point of view it is unfair.”

Company director, Chunilal Shah,62,Wembley: “ I object this is not good. The people are struggling, and the tax is unfair.”

Furthermore, Brent Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Brent Community law Centre say the changes will have a devastating impact for the most susceptible in the borough. The £350m cut in legal aid will see law centres ‘which offer free’ advice pushed to the limits.

Local authorities may decide to procure temporary accommodation in cheaper locations out of the borough and send homeless families to live a long way from their local area. If a local authority makes an offer of accommodation that is technically suitable but which the family refuses due to the severe disruption it would entail, the local authority will nonetheless have discharged their legal duty and the family left to fend for most likely through the DHP  budget https://www.gov.uk/government/news/benefit-cap-starts-in-london

Cllr Dr Onkar Sahota, AM, said : “ The discretionary house payments are discretionary and the question is different councils will do different things.”

Temporary accommodation (TA) costs based on contemporary Local Allowance Housing Rates (LHA) and the management costs for TA paid directly to local authorities, most likely through the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) budget. This means the cost of TA for a homeless household is the same as renting a private home within LHA rates.

A YouGov survey of over 2000 working adults who pay housing costs found that 35% could not pay their rent or mortgage from their savings for more than a month. Alarmingly, 18% of these said that if they lost their jobs this April and could not secure a new one right away, they could not pay their rent or mortgage at all.

As government cuts kick in and the squeeze on family budgets, means savings become harder. Shelter is bracing itself for a surge in demand from people at risk of becoming homeless. Campbell Robb, Shelters chief executive, said: “We would urge anyone who is struggling to get advice as soon as possible from an organisation like shelter

TWITTER:

 

1. Iain Duncan Smith writes for telegraph # bit.ly/YQ59ba

2. Press release # http://t.co/61e5xGrIGF

3. @ Brent CAB Benefit cap applies to Croydon, Enfield, Bromley, Haringey. All local authorities from April 15

4. visit Shelter for support # http://england.shelter.org.uk/

5. Do people get it. Thatcher wouldn’t have gone this far.

6. Read Guardian Sat 20 March 2013 # government’s bedroom tax worthy of Stalin- Poverty tsar

7. How the bedroom tax affected Brent residents  # www.brentandkilurntimes.co.uk

 

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