Friday, 24 October 2014

Surveys reveal housing professionals are already taking the hit following benefit reform

Welfare cuts spark assaults rise fears

Front line housing workers increasingly fear for their safety because of the government’s welfare reforms, research by Inside Housing has revealed.

The results of an online survey, completed by 113 individuals from across the UK last month, showed that 83 per cent of housing officers and managers believe the welfare reforms may increase their risk of being verbally and physically assaulted. Forty-one per cent of respondents stated they already feel less safe than they did 12 months ago.

A number of front line workers provided details of incidents directly related to welfare changes, particularly the introduction of the controversial bedroom tax, which came into force on 1 April and penalises tenants on benefit who have a spare room.

One housing officer from Wales said: ‘[I have been assaulted] numerous times by tenants wanting to vent their frustration at the unfairness of the bedroom tax. As we are on the front line, housing staff are bearing the brunt of their anger.’

The news emerged as separate research by Inside Housing revealed verbal attacks against front line staff jumped by 12 per cent and physical assaults rose by 2 per cent between 2011 and 2012.

The research reveals that 11 incidents are being recorded every day by social landlords. During the first three months of this year, front line workers reported 1,064 assaults to their employers. If verbal and physical attacks continue at this rate more than 4,250 incidents would be recorded in 2013. This would be a 12 per cent rise on 2012 when 3,812 incidents were logged.

John Gray, housing association branch secretary at union Unison, said: ‘Housing officers are going to be expected to evict model tenants who have never caused any problems, who due to austerity and welfare reforms [are unable to pay their rent]. It is expected that tenants and their relatives are going to get angry.’

Responding to the findings, Jack Dromey, shadow housing minister said: ‘As the bedroom tax pushes people into dire poverty, housing staff are being blamed by desperate tenants who are wrongly taking it out on people who are there to support them.’

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘Attacks on front line workers are utterly unacceptable.’ She added the DWP has communicated benefit changes well in advance of implementation.

Readers' comments (32)

  • Get this sickening government out.

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  • Paul, get them out agreed, the problem is that Labour would be no better, none of them are any good. Most whatever party they represent seem to come from university activism, through council safe seat/lobbying to safe parliamentary seat from the same out of touch , no real job before politics background. they could not survive outside their privileged microcosm.

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  • michael barratt

    Attacks on front line housing staff are unacceptable yet no surprising given the desperation generated by this Government's assault on vulnerable people within our community and their children. This Government has ruthlessly and without pity slashed welfare benefits causing widespread financial, physical and mental harm. Is not the financial, physical and mental harm caused by this Government t in their assault on vulnerable people no less a reprehensible act of violence and less easy to understand than the acts of very desperate people drive beyond the limit of their endurance?

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  • This is a totally disgusting, and degrading situation to put people in.

    To attack those housing staff is not acceptable. They have not caused these problems.

    This Government is causing so much hurt.

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  • Labour have said they will convert "Affordable Rent" properties back into social rent. That is enough to make me vote Labour.

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  • Iron Fist

    Only a full blown return to Socialist principles as opposed to their Tory-lite incarnation would see me voting Labour again. Show me a commitment to a genuine programme of building social housing and a meaningful redistribution of wealth first - alongside repealing the welfare benefit reforms.

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  • Alpha One

    So then Iron Fist how do you plan to re-distribute the wealth, taxes I suppose, because that's working so well as the moment!

    Whilst attacks are reprehenisble, blaming the government for them is like blaming the corporations for the riots. These people are venting their anger incorrectly.

    We all know how frustrating it can be to not be able to do something, I recently had cause to complain about a certain online company who left me out of pocket due to their stupid rules, I got to the highest person and they would not uphold my complaint. Sure I wanted to go postal on the organisation, but I didn't because that would be wrong.

    So yes, your situation is dire, you are in a desperate position and no one seem to care, believe me I understand it, just as I understand the feeling that you need to vent, but these people are on your side, they disagree with the cuts as much as you do, control yourselves, behave like an adult.

    The one good thing that is coming at the moment is that the people of this great country have had enough, we're a little way from someone doing something, but they will, come 2015 when we end up with some dopey Lib Lab coalition and the country utterley falls into destruction and despair, the will come someone to lead the way.

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  • The people who abuse housing staff should loose their home. They don't deserve their home. There are more people on the waiting list.

    Iron Fist: "a meaningful redistribution of wealth first". I already pay 40%. I think that is generous. How much more do you think is fair?


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  • Iron Fist

    Concerned Landlord - I happen to think that the silly amount of HB the private landlords soak up compared with social housing means a rate greater than 40% would be fair in your case. One of the biggest drains on the public purse and it's been allowed to flourish.

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  • Daniel Sweeney

    I think the point is that people are loosing their home, and thats why they are, unacceptably, attacking housing officers. CL, dont you have an accountant to deal with that pesky 40% bit? I'm just short of the 40% band, but when I hit it, I wont be complaining overly. I think Iron Fist is referring to poeple who are liable for higher rate tax (presumably not taxed at source) but who manage not to pay it, or pay any tax at all.

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