As we reported last October a number of London local authorities consulted last year on making cuts to their Council Tax Support schemes for 2016/17. Those consultations have now finished and councillors have made their decision on what changes to implement prior to the 31st January deadline.
Out of the ten authorities that consulted over cuts only Hounslow has decided to leave its scheme unchanged. Despite initially proposing increasing it’s minimum payment up to 20% in the end councillors voted to keep it at 8.5% on recommendation from cabinet. Although no explanation was given for this change of heart we would hope it arose out of concern for the impact a higher charge would have on Hounslow’s poorest residents. In any case Hounslow councillors deserve congratulations for keeping their charge at a more affordable level, making them only one of four (the others being Camden, Richmond and Islington) who have kept their charge below 10%. Continue reading
Since the age threshold for the Shared Accommodation rate was raised to thirty five our Private Rented Sector Access Scheme has struggled to house anyone under that age without an exemption. This has meant we regularly have to turn away homeless young men and women seeking our help.
We have in the past tried to place people in shared accommodation but the vulnerable nature of our clients has made this challenging. To address this challenge we have collaborated with a new charity called Humanity Homes to create a hostel where we can provide ongoing support to those we house there. Continue reading
Finally, some good welfare news! In last night’s debate in the House of Lords on its latest Welfare Reform Bill, the Government finally conceded defeat and agreed to exempt full-time carers from its pernicious Benefit Cap. This follows a damning High Court judgment last November, which found that the cap discriminates against disabled people and their full-time carers. DWP Minister, Lord Freud announced that the Government will bring forward an amendment at the Bill’s Third Reading debate exempting those on Carer’s Allowance from the cap.
Z2K is against the Benefit Cap on a point of principle, and so we don’t think anyone should be hit by it. However, the experience of our NextDoor project working with those affected has shown us there is an especially damaging impact on full-time carers. They have been left facing the insidious choice of reducing the number of hours they care for their relative or losing their home. In a classic bureaucratic “catch-22”, if they do reduce the number of hours they care to below 35 a week, they also lose their Carer’s Allowance. That’s why we have long called for those in receipt of Carers Allowance to be exempted entirely. Continue reading