Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Housing Benefit cuts will hit the poorest hardest in Makerfield

Official Figures released to me confirm the devastating impact of the coalition government’s changes to Housing Benefit.

Housing benefit (HB) is a means tested benefit. It exists to enable people on low incomes to access decent, affordable housing. HB is paid to tenants who are working, looking for work or unable to work. It is paid to 4.7 million tenants in England & Wales and the average payment is £83 per week. In the private rented sector, HB is paid to tenants in the form of a Local Housing Allowance (LHA). The main impact of the proposed changes will be felt in the private rental sector.

Dept Work & Pensions figures confirm that 48% of households renting in the private sector already face shortfalls averaging £23 per week and the proposed changes from 2011 onwards will place additional pressure on people’s budgets.

Many private tenants will face very significant shortfalls between their Housing benefit and their rent as a result of the budget cuts and they will face financial hardship to make this up from their other income.

The Coalition Government has made much of the people who are receiving payments of over £1,000 per week – but across the whole country there are fewer than 100 people in this category, and the Coalition have cynically used this as a smokescreen to attack the living standards of some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

In Wigan, for example, people living in the cheapest shared room accommodation will see their entitlement cut by £7 per week and by over £360 per year, and households with large families will lose over £800 per year.

Over 4,500 Wigan households will lose out and these figures do not take into account cuts in tax credits which will also hit those on low and modest incomes.

The independent housing charity Shelter fear that 134,000 families across the country will be forced to move because of these savage cuts, and some will be left to live on less than £50 per week.

It is simply outrageous that, as a number of independent studies have shown, the poorest families will lose five times as much as the richest. This shows that the Tory-Lib Dem claims about ‘fairness’ are completely false and that far from being ‘all in it together’ their cuts are hitting the poorest hardest.