Jane approached our service because her Housing Benefit had been stopped due to a now resolved problem with her Employment and Support Allowance. Jane’s landlord, Network Stadium, had successfully gained a Possession Order against her, largely because she was not represented at the hearing (she was in less than 8 weeks rent arrears at the time of the hearing but the landlord was successful on discretionary grounds alone).
Jane was now threatened with homelessness and explained to me that she had moved from her 2 bedroom council property in October 2013 due to the Bedroom Tax. Jane explained that in her previous council property the rent was £150 per week, but in her new “Affordable Rent” property it was £255 per week. Jane’s security of tenure had also been reduced from a life-long assured tenancy to a new 5 year fixed term tenancy under the rules introduced by the Localism Act 2011. Continue reading
This morning saw the publication of a raft of new DWP sponsored research papers on the impact of the Benefit Cap. The papers include in-depth interviews with affected claimants, a post-implementation survey of claimant and analysis of outcomes and impact on local authority services.
Amongst the plethora of statistics produced by the research the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, leapt upon those that appeared to show that the Benefit Cap was achieving its stated policy aim of further ‘incentivising’ capped claimants to move into employment. For example 19 per cent of capped households moved into employment after a year compared to 11 per cent for a similar uncapped group – a difference of over seven percentage points. However a closer examination of the research doesn’t quite support IDS’s vision of a brilliant policy helping thousands of formerly feckless claimants into work. Continue reading
Today’s official statistics show that homelessness continued to increase in the three months to September. The figures themselves might seem modest – 2 per cent increases over the previous quarter in both the number of households accepted as homeless and in priority need and the numbers placed in temporary accommodation has continued to climb. But the quarterly total accepted as statutorily homeless is the highest since 2008 and the number in temporary accommodation is now above 60,000 for the first time since early 2009.
The figures themselves give cause for real concern. But more worrying still, is the fact that these increases have come at the same time as many local authorities are beginning to make use of their new power to discharge their duty to homeless households through the offer of a tenancy in the private rented sector rather than social housing. Of course, the numbers actually discharged into the PRS is still relatively low. But the mere threat of using it, will have persuaded other homeless families to accept a voluntary move into the private sector rather than submit a formal application and spend two months in Bed & Breakfast before being placed in the very same private tenancy. Continue reading