City threatened by £8 million benefit cut
Thousands of families in one of the UK’s biggest cities are facing a cut in housing benefits worth £8 million, an MP has claimed.
Paul Goggins, Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, said 14,000 families in Manchester will be affected by the changes to housing benefit entitlement in the Welfare Reform Bill.
Under the proposals social tenants of working age will only be able to claim benefits for the number of rooms of their home they occupy.
Mr Goggins said: ‘These new rules on underoccupancy bear no relationship to the reality many families face.
‘Ministers expect them to move to a smaller property or make up the difference, but we are talking about the homes of families who simply do not have that kind of spare cash.
‘For example, a low income couple with two daughters under 16 who live in a three bedroom house will have to find an extra £10 a week in rent.
‘Manchester has always tried to provide family accommodation and there are more properties with two and three bedrooms and fewer with only one.
‘This sometimes means childless couples or families where the children have grown up and left home are living in houses with two and three bedrooms.
‘They shouldn’t be uprooted just because their circumstances have changed.’
The Department for Work and Pensions’ impact assessment of the underoccupany cuts states it will affect around a third of social tenants in England. It is designed to free up larger homes for families who need them, as well as reducing the benefit bill.
Mr Goggins said: ‘There are thousands on the housing waiting list and we should be making the most efficient use of the city’s social housing. But draconian cuts of this kind are not the way to do it.
‘There is a real risk that more people will fall behind with their rent and get into debt.
‘The Welfare Reform Bill is being debated in the House of Lords on 13 September and now we know what the real impact will be on some of Manchester’s poorest families I will be pressing ministers to think again.’
A DWP spokesperson said:’It’s not fair people for people to continue to live in homes that are too large for their needs when in England alone there are around five million people on the social housing waiting list and over a quarter of a million tenants are living in overcrowded conditions.
‘Its only right that we bring fairness back to the system and make better use of the housing stock, which is why from April 2013 tenants and landlords will have to consider the type of accommodation based on what tenants could afford if they were not receiving housing benefit, or if they were living in the private sector.’