New LHA Laws Favour Violent Criminals

New LHA Laws Favour Violent Criminals

21:53 PM, 20th December 2011, About 10 years ago 27

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Now you might be forgiven for thinking this is an over sensationalised headline to grab your attention. Well I’m sorry to burst your bubble because it isn’t!

This evening I read the PDF Fact Sheet which is linked from Ben Reeve-Lewis’ article entitled “Housing Benefit Newsflash”.

The fact sheet is produced by the NHAS (National Homeless advice Service) and has been distributed to all “Housing Advisors and Support Workers in England’s Statutory and voluntary services”.

With effect from January 2012, single benefits claimants between the age of 25 and 35 will only be able to claim LHA (housing benefits) equal to the cost of living in a shared house. However, if they are judged to be a danger to society, they may well be entitled to claim extra benefits in order to be able to afford to live in a self contained one bedroom property.

The following quote, in italics is taken directly from the NHAS guide:-

"The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) circular on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit – HB/CTB A12-2011 (Revised) – exempts a further two groups of 
young people from the Shared Accommodation Rate applying to them. They are:
  • former residents of specialist hostels for homeless people
  • ex-offenders who pose a risk to the public.
These categories are very specific and, by definition, may affect relatively few claimants. They are included in the Government’s HB Regulation 2(1) definition of 
‘young individual’ and both exempt only those aged over 25 but under 35 years who live alone, enabling them to live in self-contained accommodation where previously 
a Housing Benefit claim only afforded them to share accommodation with others. 
The new Shared Accommodation Rate exemptions are in addition to existing ones."

Is it right that a violent criminal who has just got out of prison after serving a 15 year stretch, having paid no taxes and proven to be a danger to society should be entitled to live in a one bed self contained flat, at further expense of the taxpayer, when 34 year olds who have worked all their lives, paid their taxes and recently lost their jobs have to make do with a shared room in a shared house?

Is it any wonder why people turn to rioting?

If you doubt what I’m telling you it’s all documented in this PDF

What do you think?

Please add comments below and share this article to give others an opportunity to have their say.

 


Mark Alexander
Mark and his family have been investing in property since 1989, initially in the Norwich area but more recently across the length and breadth of England. Mark created Property118.com as a social network for landlords with a vision of becoming the UK’s largest online property investor directory.
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Comments

by

23:21 PM, 20th December 2011, About 10 years ago

In my limited experience this would not only apply to the stereo-typical male ex-offender you describe. It might also refer to any person with an unlicensed sentence history, a person with enduring mental health, alcohol or substance abuse issues or any number of other scenarios. These individuals are likely to be looking at extremely limited housing choices in the first place, if any.
The answer is not to make people homeless, there are precious few hostel resources (most charity funded), and it seems this is a pragmatic solution. I cannot imagine it will be the individual who defines their level of risk.
I see nothing in this policy which would justify rioting - itself a violent and criminal offence...

by Mark Alexander

23:26 PM, 20th December 2011, About 10 years ago

My point was not intended to be gender specific and there can never be any justification for rioting in modern society Teena. My point is, why do the people you describe deserve larger benefits and better quality housing than law abiding citizens?

by

23:45 PM, 20th December 2011, About 10 years ago

I am not saying they do. Self contained housing does not necessarily imply 'better' quality, that is an emotive statement. I am saying that the decision does not, from my reading, refer only to ex-offenders. It refers to the housing of people considered to be an on-going risk to others. If there were not this exclusion it might mean that housing officers were unable to take appropriate decisions even where they were advised to house people separately. As the document states, it is only likely to apply to a very small number of individuals, and in reality, given the shortage of housing stock and the difficulty for anyone finding rented accommodation, the likelihood is that high risk individuals will continue to be housed by charitable trusts if not in a cardboard box. The latter hardly a safe solution for any of us.
As to who deserves what, I simply don't see it in those terms. Benefits are about appropriateness to need, not what we as individuals might think we deserve.

by

8:21 AM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

RE "having paid no taxes"

You mean like Landlords, they seem to avoid taxes with their interest only book fiddling schemes.

by Mark Alexander

8:34 AM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

Teena, if a person is a danger to society they should be institutionalised in my opinion, not favoured financially in the benefits system. I understand that offenders need to be rehabilitated but put them into shared houses where they get the same benefits (justifiably costing less not more) and make sure they only mix with their own kind. Give them the incentive to function in society. Half way houses are what's required for rehabilitation. When they can prove they can function in society and earn an honest living, that's the point at which they may be able to rent self contained accommodation? I can envisage instances where the group you describe are going to end up talking to some softie housing association who puts them into social housing in a modern development, right next door to honest people who have worked hard and saved up to fund a deposit to buy their home. I appreciate that this change to the LHA rules only affects a small percentage of society but that doesn’t make it right. Let's try to get a number added to see what this small percentage actually means to. A small percentage of the entire population could still be a huge number!

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

10:04 AM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

Mark you are making the mistake of thinking that social housing organisations are 'Softies' haha. Councils and housing asociations deal with so many tenants with a variety of social problems. Everyone I know who works in them are cynical experienced people who dont lean towards naivete. We have to operate under rules set down for us by governments. I dont know a single bleeding heart in my business, well not once they have been in post more than 6 months.

Social landlords do end up putting ex murderers, armed robbers, sex offenders next door to decent folk but this is unavoidable because our society is comprised of decent people and people who are a danger to others

The only possible extension of your logic is to deny housing provisions to them in which case, as Teena points out they all have to live in cardboard boxes and the authorities then dont know where they are and have no control over them. Alternatively you just keep everyone banged up for life, which is also hardly a sensible or achievable solution.

This isnt about the fairness of violent recidivists getting better benefits than decent law abiding folk, but about managing a social problem that isnt going to go away just because we are personally offended by them

by Jerry Jones

10:07 AM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

This is the way that the benefits system, almost by definition has to work. Poeple who make provision for themselves get nothing while people who haven't done so get taxpayers' money. I don't see any alternative in a civilised society, although we can argue about the implementation - I am currently grumbling about how choosy LHA claimants are being in Middlesbrough, where I have a decent house with no takers because of the area it is in (blighted by the behaviour people moved into it as a result of selective licensing elsewhere, interestingly)

by Mark Alexander

10:26 AM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

So what's wrong with the half way house scenario?

They need to go into half way houses, still HMO's in my opinion, staffed by trained professionals. Preferably these properties will be away from society.

These people may have served their time but if they are deemed to be a risk to society they need to be managed properly, not rewarded by getting a better property.

Here's a scenario for you. Twins leave school. One goes to 6th form, then to University, gets qualifications and goes on to work in essential services. However, due to government cut backs this twin has lost his job, got depressed and his girlfriend has left him. This twin is desperately looking to get a job and is struggling to make ends meet. In January this twin will be forced to move out of a one bed flat into an HMO. The other twin gets into drugs at school, comits violent crimes to fund the habit and goes to prison. Twin two has now served time and is released back into society.

How it can be right that twin one ends up in a shared house and twin two ends up in a nice self contained one bed housing association flat?

I'm going to get of my soap box now Ben and give other people an opportunity to get a word in.

by Ben Reeve-Lewis

10:42 AM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

Mark thats my point, halfway houses exist but not enough because of public sector cuts. Also on the same point you make you cant have them away from society unless you have them on Dartmoor. In cities everyone is lumped in together. Its not practical unless you start seriously suggesting puting bail hostels on islands and thats just getting bizarre.

Now Jerry that is an interesting conundrum, bad tenants being forced out by selective licensing and ghetoo-ising other areas. Another example of the madness of our disconnected housing system.

The imbalance in benefits is a problem that has been around for ages. People are only in the last year or so uniting in their awareness of it.

I am based in our homeless unit and the other week I interviewed a single woman facing mortgage repossession who was only elgible for £65 a week job seekers allowance. I said to her that if she had a child she would receive enough benefits to save her home. She replied that she wasnt the type to get pregnant just to get a counicl house, to which I said "Well you're in the wrong place here then love" haha

by

12:27 PM, 21st December 2011, About 10 years ago

What we are discussing here is the benefits rule. Sentencing policy, offender management, rehabilitation, social integration, provision of hostel accommodation are all other issues. The fact is that this exclusion within the new benefit payment is a pragmatic and necessary inclusion given the current situation with all of the above. It is only one way in which ex-offender housing is subsidised. There are other funds available to ex-offenders; help with deposit payments for example, which are also not available to all others. The issue is providing appropriate housing by whatever means are available given the lack of supply. The assumption that an ex-offender is molly-coddled by housing providers is not correct. Likewise the assumption that an ex-offender has never paid taxes.
If we were going to question the wider issue of why people are released when they are still a risk to the public, it is perhaps the cost of incarceration to the tax payer that is at the root of many of the decisions taken by governments up to this point. Again, that is not the offender's decision any more than the decision which defines the level of risk they might represent.
In the absence of penal reform, the benefits system is simply carefully playing the hand it has been dealt.

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