Study suggests black and minority ethnic families may be forced to uproot
BME tenants ‘get a raw deal from benefit cuts’
Housing benefit cuts will disproportionately harm black and minority ethnic families, according to the first study to assess their impact on the BME community.
The Race Equality Foundation said the cuts, which kicked in for new claimants this month, could damage community cohesion by forcing BME families from their homes and into new areas where housing is more affordable.
It claimed BME communities will be more likely to suffer from the cuts because they often need larger homes due to family size and tend to live in areas targeted by the cuts such as London, where the disparity between rents and the benefit cap is particularly high.
It pointed to Department for Work and Pensions research which estimated 30 per cent of households affected by capping local housing allowance payments to a maximum of four bedrooms included someone from a BME background.
The study also said around half of Bangladeshi and Pakistani children and around a third of black African children belong to families of three or more children, compared with around a sixth of white British children.
REF also warned that setting the local housing allowance rate at the 30th percentile of rents in a local area, rather than the median, limits claimants to the bottom third of the market.
The DWP has set up a year-long review which will examine the changes as they take effect, including the impact on BME tenants.
Sue Beasor, the benefits consultant who wrote the report, said: ‘At the moment, what happens is we are getting the policy, and then they release the impact assessment afterwards. I think it would be a lot more helpful if they would do the assessment first.’
Last month Trevor Phillips, chief executive of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, argued that the housing benefit cuts could aid ethnic minorities by pushing down rents.