DWP housing benefit cut plans 'cost more'
Government plans to force tenants out of homes deemed ‘too big’ for them and into smaller ones could end up costing more due to a lack of available social housing, it has been claimed.
The Department of Work and Pension is proposing to slash the housing benefit for people ‘under-occupying’ properties, meaning the tenant will have to pick up the shortfall or leave their home.
The plans would see households with one spare room lose 15 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two or more spare rooms lose 25 per cent.
The NHF says the measure could cost the government more as 180,000 tenants are currently under-occupying two bedroom homes, but only 68,000 one bedroom social housing homes were available in 2009/10.
Many single parents will be pushed away from friends, relatives and support networks
David Orr, NHF chief executive
The NHF argues this to be counter-productive saying ‘every tenant moving to the private rented sector will cost the taxpayer more in additional housing benefit.’
David Orr, NHF chief executive, also said the plans would force people away from family and friends they grew up with.
Mr Orr said: ‘As a result of these changes, thousands of couples are no longer able to offer their grown-up children a room to stay in should their circumstances change, and many single parents will be pushed away from friends, relatives and support networks.
‘Of course ‘under-occupation’ in the social housing sector should be tackled. But slashing people’s housing benefit and pushing them into poverty is not the answer.’
The DWP said the measures would not affect pensioners and that extra help from the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme and from an additional £130m was available to help smooth the transition of the Housing Benefit changes.
A DWP spokeswoman said: ‘Housing Benefit has spiralled out of control over the last decade and it’s unfair that people living in a property that is too large for their needs should do so at the expense of the taxpayer.
‘People should make choices about size and location of their accommodation based on what they can afford when in work, and this measure will bring the social rented sector in line with those claiming Housing Benefit in the private rented sector.
‘However, the Government is committed to supporting the needs of disabled people, including for the first time providing a bedroom for a non resident carer if someone needs overnight care for themselves or their partner.’