Tenants Feel the Pinch as Housing Benefit Cuts Come into Effect

Tenants Feel the Pinch as Housing Benefit Cuts Come into Effect

10:55 AM, 2nd February 2012, About 12 years ago 16

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Existing tenants will start to feel the pinch this month as their benefits are reduced by an average of £83 per week due to the housing benefit cuts introduced last April.

The UK government hopes the alterations to housing benefit payments will both save money and reduce private rents.

However, many opposed to the new restrictions say that placing caps on benefit payments will force many claimants and their families living in prosperous areas to move out of their homes and into poverty.
Others are raising the question of whether it is right that the state should be paying people to live in areas and houses that most taxpayers simply cannot afford.

London Councils estimate that approximately 82,000 households will be forced to leave the more affluent inner-city areas and move to the outskirts of London due to the cuts. This could easily rise to 133,000 or more when the introduction of universal credit eventually comes to fruition in 2013, as the total benefits a family can claim will also be capped.

This substantial migration from London city centre is bound to have a massive impact on services such as schools, social services and health services. Because of this, despite the fact that the forthcoming housing benefits caps will perhaps hit London the hardest; the overall effect is likely to become an increasing national problem.

Until these changes are well underway, it will be difficult to predict how tenants that need to stay in the areas they are currently living in will cope when faced with being unable to pay their rent. Property overcrowding, making up the shortfall alone and living in poverty seem to be unavoidable situations.
The significant numbers of families that will have to move as a result of the changes to housing benefit payments along with the universal credit plans will also inevitably present many boroughs with a number of high-cost problems.

Areas on the outskirts of London that offer lower rents and more affordable housing will now start to attract an influx of families that are struggling to keep up their tenancy payments. This unavoidable and increased capacity will soon start to put a strain on the local services, particularly schools.

As a result of the overcrowding and high birth-rates many of the outer London communities are currently experiencing, councils are already recognising the need to expand existing primary schools and are starting to convert office buildings into school classrooms and searching for other empty properties to use for teaching. Some schools are even considering ‘split shift schooling’, which means that some children would be taught in the mornings and some in the afternoons because of budget restrictions.

Affinity Sutton Housing Association said of the cuts “We welcome reform of the welfare benefits system but cutting housing benefit and pushing people into poverty is not the answer and instead, advocate incentivising and supporting people to move.”

While things like housing sector benefits do need to be addressed, cutting housing benefit and pushing families and their children into such poverty that it pressurises them to move from their homes and schools is not a long term solution. Instead, incentivising and supporting people to move to more affordable, decent housing in safe communities is surely a more positive and sustainable approach.

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Ben Reeve-Lewis

12:50 PM, 2nd February 2012, About 12 years ago

Excellent piece Daniel. The true cost of cuts. Inside Husing report just today that many council's are having topay top up housing benefit payments to stop people being evicted and driven into homelessness, so the money that the government intended cuts to save is simply being pushed elsewhere in the system as everyone has been telling them all along.

Camo may big-up billions of pounds in cuts in HB payments as proof of the scheme's success but will they then report overspend on discretionary housing payments and homelesness budgets that are being spent on dealing with the fallout?

17:37 PM, 2nd February 2012, About 12 years ago

Sorry I will say in public what a lot of people are starting to say in private…

I don’t understand way none working people should expect to be able to bring up children in an area that very few working people with families are able to afford to live in.    I consider living in London to be no more of a right then having fillet steak for breakfast everyday – it is not reasonable to expect the working tax payers to pay for something for other people that they can’t have themselves.  I know the children will not be happy when they discover they can’t have fillet steak for breakfast, but sorry that is life.

Just look at the schools in some parts of London, you will not find many children from families where the parents work and speak English, as only the very rich and the very poor can afford to bring up a family in London.

Should parents that have children when they KNOW that they will be unable to afford to look after them and house them be prosecuted for child abuse, rather the given hand outs?  (I am not talking about parent that had a good job, and then lost the job after having the children just the parent that never had any worthwhile job.)

Ben Reeve-Lewis

18:06 PM, 2nd February 2012, About 12 years ago

Ian, not for the first time I find your views absolutely abhorrent.
Living in London equivalent to eating Fillet steak for breakfast?
Like many people I was born and brought up in London, my family are here, my mother and father’s graves are here. It is my Home and the home of my entire family for 300 years that I can trace back to the Huguenots, it aint a yuppie luxury for me, it is my home!!! And I am being priced out of my home by Greek and Chinese property developers being led by soul-less London letting agents promising high rents to foreign investors that destroys my local community and my history.
London has always been a multi-cultural community, right back to the Romans. What I love about being a Londoner is that you can come from anywhere but if you live in London, you are a Londoner. I welcome my African, West Indian, Iranian, Chinese, Turkish neighbours. I have more in common with them than I do with small minded middle England that your views represent.
I always try to understand all views in the housing world, but I this case I am mightily pissed off for the first time.

3:10 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago

Isn't the only reason that there is this supposed multi-cultural situation in London because of the availability og Housing Benefit which has supported those claimants to live in London.
Reduce or remove the level of benefits and then magically they have to move to where normal people who work do.
Surely this is just the real world starting to impact on the artificial world of benefit claimants.
Just because they have built up communities etc in a certain place in London; that is only because benefits supported the situation.
Well now they will be in the same boat as hard working people who find they cannot live in central London.
Can one really justify paying £2000.00 per week plus all the other benefits to keep a claimant in the style they are acustomed to in Maida Vale.
Yes there will be upheaval in domestic circumstances; but no more so than someone not on benefit who has to make such a choice due to their economic circumstances.
Of course the answer as we have discussed before is a massive social housing  programme like in the 60's
That would be a far better use of quantative easing than giving it to the criminal bankers.
Can you see however such creative thinking coming from this government........!!!!?
Thhe government just doesn't seem to understand that rather than paying out LHA to the PRS they should build low rent accommodation for disadvantaged people and then the housing benefit will come back to th council or government coffers.
All they have to do is build the damn cheap houses.
I don't know if anybody has worked out the payback cost of a council house.
As an interesting subject how much would it cost  the council to build a low rent property to rent out to the £2000 per week claimant in Maida Vale.
I am sure you would get pay back in about 10 years.
That is not even factoring in the £2000 per week the council could be paying.
I reckon the low rent for a social property in Maida Vale would be about £950.00
Doing this would put all the BRITISH builders back to work.
With all the taxes and NI coming in it could even work out cost neutral.
Of course none of this will happen so that LHA claimants end up in inadequate property at continuing and increasing expense to the govt.
Money down the drain into the PRS is all that is happening.
Is that a  socially useful way to spend govt money!?

Ben Reeve-Lewis

8:35 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago

Paul I agree with you about the need for cheaper housing to be built but I think you are doing a typical tabloid style generalisation of benefit claimants and using a pointless example of Maida Vale where most working Londoners cant even afford to live.
Most of London is places like Peckham, Hackney, et al and its where most Londoners go about their lives. Ordinary places with tower blocks and rough arsed estates.
Tabloids and politicians love to run stories about people on £5,000 a month benefits, especially if they are foreign or god forbid have the temerity to have black skin. And do you know what? They really are out there. I work in the homelessness unit, I see them sometimes but they are a tiny percentage of the benefit population, that’s why their cases end up in the Daily Mail. Like Maida Vale it isn’t representative of reality as a whole but it makes a good headline.
The people I see have their kids crammed into tiny rooms and cut back on food to meet their rent. I go into their homes and see how they live. Yes they could move out of London and rent cheaper but as is the case with me, its my home and always has been, its not just about bricks and mortar or even basic economics.
What is going on at the moment is no different to the highland clearance of the 18th century or the diaspora from Ireland at the same time. People forced from their home, its just that the more successful and stable have no sympathy because they don’t have to do it.
I know Property 118 is no place for me to air these kinds of views and expect no support but I cant let it pass without comment. I’m not a leftie or a bleeding heart, in fact I’m a cynical old housing frontliner, been there, got the T shirt, been lied to thousands of times and get just as annoyed with the layabouts and fraudsters as you guys but the difference is I see the reality of peoples lives everyday not the tabloid version.

Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

8:51 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago

Well said Ben, and I'm not a Londoner.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

9:05 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago

In fact just this morning I see CPAG have done their own research to explode myths about people on benefits http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2012-02-02-Government-benefit-cap-based-on-myths

9:53 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago


I don’t think my view are “Middle England”, they are more reflective of discontented professional worker’s in England’s 2nd city that can’t understand way London bankers and London housing benefit claimants should get all the money while they have to pay high taxes and often can’t even afford a week’s hotel in central London while large payments are made to none contributors (that are often not even willing to learn English) to live in Westminster on housing benefit.  (Language is an issue, but thankfully I have not heard anyone talk about ‘colour’ just resent immigrants and “imported” brides.)

Then there are all the London based human rights lawyers making lots of money at the tax payers’ expense and the EU that for some reason
is also often blamed on “the liberal south”.  

(No one seems to remember that it was the north that kept Gordon
Brown in power and it was him that gave the bankers a lot of our money, while refusing to make work pay and trapping a lot of people in the benefit system.)

The labour movement and co-ops started in the North, maybe a
new political movement is in the making, I don’t know only time will tell.  But I often hear professional workers say things up north that no-one in “Middle England” would consider politically correct and hence are not being talked about in “Middle England”.

(Yes I know what areas like Hackney are like, but most people in the north only know what they see of London on the news, including benefit claimants being allowed to steal TVs for many nights before action was taken.  In Manchester the action was taken on the first night, and a lot of the people were in jail within days. Why was London seen to be so soft?)

As to building more social housing in London, I can’t see were the land will come from so the only way I can see to sort out the unbalance between suppler and demand is on the demand side.

Ben Reeve-Lewis

10:24 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago

So have I got this right then Ian.....all rioters were benefit claimants and all the country's ill's are down to lazy foreigners on benefits who dont even bother to learn English?

You're right, Middle England is perhaps not the right term to use to sum up those views. How about Alf Garnett? haha

10:59 AM, 3rd February 2012, About 12 years ago

(Sorry I think you are trying to make what I said fit your view of me, maybe I need better skills at written English!)

No, thankfully I don’t know anyone that thinks it is that
simple but then my friends tend to be educated professionals that are very unlikely
at present to vote for the extreme parties that are trying to use these issues.  As we ALL wish to keep these extreme parties
out of power, the issues need addressing before it become too late!

There seem to have been a “step change” in views of some of my friends since the rioters
being on TV trying to justify their actions and the TV coverage of the objections
to the government benefit changes. 

The level of physical and practical segregation of communities
that live next to each other in Manchester is unbelievable relative to the healthy
mix in the south.    When I think about it, I cannot recall seeing
any “coloured” people on the train this morning – this is so strange to me
given most of my life have been spent living in area with at least some level
of mix.

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