Nat Fed starts 'week of action' on welfare bill
Social landlords are backing the National Housing Federation’s campaign to force a rethink of the government’s controversial proposal to cut housing benefit.
The federation has called for a week of grassroots action by its members and tenants as the Welfare Reform Bill is debated in parliament this week.
National welfare action week, which begins today (Monday), will see landlord, charities and tenants contacting their MPs over the plans to introduce a benefits cap, which will see 50,000 families loose an average of £5,000 a year from 2013.
The federation believes that the cap will excessively penalise larger families and those living in parts of the country with higher rents.
It also criticises plans to introduce a penalty for under occupancy, meaning that any tenants deemed to have spare bedrooms in their property will also see benefits slashed.
The federation said the penalty will affect 670,000 people across the UK, particularly disabled people, foster carers and families with young children.
‘The very people the government should be helping during these tough economic times: the disabled, foster carers and families – are exactly the people who will be hammered by these measures,’ said David Orr, the federation chief executive.
‘Hard up families will be left with a stark choice if these proposals go ahead: either move out of your home to a cheaper area or stay put and live in hardship or debt.
‘We believe these reforms will be hugely damaging to community life and will see people priced out of their homes, away from local schools, and their support networks.
‘With time running out to influence ministers, this week is the chance for anyone who is concerned about these proposals to stand up and be counted.’
The coalition also wants to scrap tenants’ right to have their housing benefit paid directly to their landlord, which many fear could lead to increased personal debt and arrears.
Dozens of landlords, including Suffolk Housing Society and Weaver Vale Housing Trust have already backed the campaign.
The trust has invited Lord Freud, who is sponsoring the bill, to meet its customers to see the impact the proposals will have on their lives.
‘Our customers have now told us that their voice should be heard, as they feel as constituents who vote, it is their views that are of primary importance,” said Steve Jennings, chief executive of Weaver Vale.