Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Government plans to slash housing allowances for 25-35 years olds is a disgrace

The Government, both parties has treated young vulnerable people with disgraceful contempt. 

A few years ago I had to help a young girl who had been in care. We made and took her a hot meal (all wrapped up) that evening such was the shocking state I encountered. She lived on neighbouring street. She couldn't read or write, couldn't cook, had no brothers or sisters. He mum died when she was 3 and her father didn't care less about her. She ended up in care having several step parents before being discharged aged 18 from state care. 

She had been placed in a Council home in a flat in an area with anti-social behaviour, drugs and criminals. She left and forfeited any right in future to a Council house. She admits to making a mistake. However this individual in my view cannot be held accountable, she is incredibly vulnerable. Society should be helping people, not turning their back on them....

She ended up with a deplorable landlord who put her in his worst property because her housing benefit was only £44 (then). Half the rate for under 25's. She gave him the rest of her benefits to keep a roof over her head. The heating didn't work properly and she had no credit so she lived under a duvet living out of packets of the cheapest food. No one in the world cared for her at all. Least of all her greedy landlord. Her life was one of misery. She struggled to get through every day, lost and frightened. Social Services have questions to answer as to the scope of their post 18 pastoral care.

How can society treat people in this way? She lived in Peel Ward if the reality of this story needs bringing closer to home.

This is 2012. A new millennia. 

Now the Government wants to halve the housing benefit room rate for the under 35's, extending it from the age of 25. This has begun in the 1st January 2012.

Why are the Tories and LibDems attacking the most vulnerable in society? As you can see from the article below one landlord, no doubt looking after his own interests is pointing out the humanity of this.

It's a scandal and no matter how bad the national debt gets we should not be treating so badly. 

In Hyndburn the current one bedroom rate is £78.46 where as the shared accommodation rate is £50.50, therefore existing claimant’s, at the 1st January 2012, could be facing drops of Housing Benefit entitlement of around £30.00 per week.

It is anticipated that up to 250 existing claimants in Hyndburn will be affected by this change.

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP). The Council may be able to offer temporary, partial relief from the reduction in Housing Benefit by awarding a DHP. However that pot is limited, other claimants are also going to be drawing on it and whether a payment is made or not is discretionary.

If you have any problems, or no of anyone with problems please come to see me at one of my surgeries or at the office on 50 Abbey Street, Accrington. Telephone 01254 382283. It is going to be difficult to do anything but we do not want to see people falling by the wayside.

The Tories in Hyndburn (and nationally) should be ashamed that their policies are causing such misery.

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Rent cuts slated by landlord; from the Peterlee Mail



Kevin Wilmot in Bright Street

Published on Monday 13 February 2012 16:00

A LANDLORD says changes to the benefits system which slash rent allowance by almost half will see people turfed out onto the streets and rendered homeless.

Hartlepool businessman Kevin Wilmot says the Housing Benefit changes could see hundreds of tenants being forced into crime in order to survive, fellow landlords left bankrupt after being unable to make payments on mortgages and streets full of empty properties.

The 50-year-old, who rents about 200 properties in the town, also believes that women may get themselves pregnant just to get extra benefits to pay the rent.

Kevin says the Government changes, which were implemented on January 1, mean anyone aged 25 to 35 has had their rent entitlement cut from £98 per week to just £55 per week.

The dad of three and granddad of two, who has been a landlord for 12 years, said the changes have affected about five of his tenants who will now have to leave their homes or try to find somebody to share with to half the costs.

Kevin, of Greatham Village, said: “It’s like we’re going back to the Victorian times. I don’t know where they think people are going to live on £55 a week. It’s ridiculous.

“How are landlords supposed to pay mortgages and maintain houses to a good standard on £55 a week?

“I’m fortunate because I have another business, but other landlords are going to start going bankrupt while tenants are going to be homeless. Where on earth are all these people going to go? The Government can’t keep hitting the poor.

“Homes will end up going back to squalor.”

But a spokesman at the Department for Work and Pensions said the reforms were to give jobless single people the same chances as employed people.

He said: “Many people who are working can’t afford to get a house on their own so they have to share accommodation with other people. The benefits system works contrary to this and it means if you are on benefits you can get a house on your own.

“That means some hard-working person has to share a house but the person next door who doesn’t go to work, gets benefits and can afford to live on their own.

“That unemployed person would then be fearful of going to work because they’d lose their benefits and lose their property. These reforms are about creating fairness.”

He added: “The cost of paying Housing Benefit in the private rented sector has nearly doubled in a decade, so it’s only right that we introduce measures which will get these spiralling costs under control.”

But Kevin hit back saying: “I will fully back any Government who wants to stop fiddling on benefit. But many of these people can’t get jobs because there’s no jobs.

“I’d now be reluctant to take on tenants under the age of 35 who have a job because how are they going to afford to pay me if they lose that job and end up with £55 a week rent?

“I have a lad whose rent is £550 a month. But he’s lost his job and is getting £55 a week. I’ve had to evict him, I don’t have an option.”

Notes

Briefing note – Changes to Housing Benefit legislation affecting single under 35 year olds claiming Housing Benefit.

The single under 25 rule for Local Housing Allowance and the single room rate rule for claim related claims has been extended to under 35 single claimants.

This means that unless a claimant is exempt from this rule a claimant in this group can only have their eligible rent figure based on the shared accommodation rate

Exemptions to both schemes are as follows:
· The claimant has at least one child or young person living with them
· The claimant has a non dependent living with them
· They have an additional room allowed for an overnight carer
· They rent from a Housing Association
· The claimant gets the severe disability premium in their applicable amount
· Certain claimants who are under 22 and are a care leaver

Exemptions that are only applicable to the Local Housing allowance scheme are as follows:

· The claimant is 25 or above, and,
· Has been resident (whether or not continuously) in one or more homeless hostels for three months; and whilst occupying such a hostel, they have been offered and accepted support services with a view to assisting their rehabilitation or resettlement within the community, or,
· Is of a certain type of ex-offender who could pose a risk of serious harm to the public and is the subject of active multi-agency management

Effective date of change
The legislation comes into force on the 1st January 2012.

So unless otherwise exempt:

· Single claimants under age 35 making new claims to Housing Benefit on or after 1st January 2012 will have their eligible rent set in relation to the shared accommodation rate
· existing single claimants under age 35 at that date who are receiving transitional protection from the April 2011 Local Housing Allowance changes will move to the shared accommodation rate from the date that their transitional protection ceases
· existing single claimants under age 35 not receiving transitional protection, e.g. those whose claims are made on or after 1st April 2011 but before 1stJanuary 2012, will move to the shared accommodation rate on the anniversary date of their claim
· pre-Local Housing Allowance cases will move to the shared accommodation rate (previously known as the single room rate) on the annual review of their case

Drop in Housing Benefit levels
The current one bedroom rate is £78.46 where as the shared accommodation rate is £50.50, therefore existing claimant’s, at the 1st January 2012, could be facing drops of Housing Benefit entitlement of around £30.00 per week.

Number affected
It is anticipated that up to 250 existing claimants will be affected by this change.
Communicating this change to customers
In October affected members of our caseload will be notified of the change in a letter dated the 1st October 2011.

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)
We may be able to offer temporary, partial relief from the reduction in Housing Benefit by awarding a DHP.

However we must bear in mind that the pot is limited, other claimants are also going to be drawing on it and whether a payment is made or not is discretionary.