Thursday, 17 April 2014

Social landlords win direct payments battle

Social landlords will continue to receive housing benefit payments directly under the government’s new welfare reforms.

The Welfare Reform Bill, unveiled this morning, includes a provision for the housing element of the new universal credit, which will combine all in-work benefits into a single payment, to be paid direct to the landlord.

Housing associations had been concerned that they would see a rise in arrears if payments to cover rent went straight to tenants. They had warned that any rise in arrears would damage lender confidence in the sector.

‘Little has shocked me more since coming into office than the state of housing benefit.’

David Cameron

Two weeks ago, welfare reform minister Lord Freud told a property conference that he did not support paying housing costs directly to landlords. But a spokeswoman for the department said today that officials had understood concerns around security of income for landlords and the bill would retain a ‘facility’ for direct payments.

Launching the bill this morning, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith also confirmed that he would not press ahead with plans to cut housing benefit by 10 per cent for claimants who have been on jobseeker’s allowance for more than a year.

Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘We won’t see this in the bill for one very good reason. The more we looked at this, the more I reviewed the interplay between that reduction at 12 months and the universal credit and work programme meant that all of these people were going to move into the work programme anyway, so they would be having intensive help to get back to work.’

The bill still includes sanctions for those who refuse offers of employment or training, which could see a claimant losing their benefits for three years if they persistently turn down work.

Prime minister David Cameron said this morning: ‘Little has shocked me more since coming into office than the state of housing benefit. We inherited a system that cost £20 billion a year, with some claimants living in property worth £2,000 a week.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Rick Campbell

    U-turn number x? Is anyone keeping a count?

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  • Sidney Webb

    Prime minister David Cameron said this morning: ‘Little has shocked me more since coming into office than the state of housing benefit. We inherited a system that cost £20 billion a year, with some claimants living in property worth £2,000 a week.’

    Didn't any of his property owning chums tell him about their nice little earner robbing the State through LHA?

    This statement from Cameron is further proof of what a cushioned existance he has led, and is reason why he is making bad decision after mad decision. He, and the baggage he bought with him, need to hand over to people who at least have lived in the real world for a few months.

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  • Debbie Davis

    PSR I totally agree with you. These morons in power have no idea what it is like to live outside of there wealthy bubble. They are so removed from the reality of life in the real world it's a shame we don't all have his background. How I would love to swap places with him for a year and him exist in my world he would soon see the error of his ways I'm sure!

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  • Alex Brown

    I can happily say well done for changing your mind on these ridiculous ideas. Just don't expect me to be happy that somee idiot at some point thought they were good ideas.

    Not being a political animal I can with hand on heart say that no party has the first idea about what it is like to live in the real world. This lot are bad but no worse than the last lot who said amongst many things "You cannot be a good citizen if you do not own your own home". - David Lammy to the Fabien Society when he was Minister for Culture.

    No wonder they scrapped the NTV when they came into power, imagine the ridicule they would have faced with 50 articulate tenant activists saying what they thought of these policies.

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  • Call-me-Dave not only has no concept of what life is like working, making ends meet, studying to make a career, paying for your own accommodation - he has no desire to know. We desperately need to grasp the reality which is that his view is that government is there to perpetuate the right of a small class to rule. It is an ordered society, in which everyone knows their place and doesn't challenge anything. To make that work, andremain immutable in time, the majority of people have to be kept so busy struggling to simply put food on the table that they never have time to think about and then get together to organise a change. Housing policy is part of this. Higher rents mean higher profits and more wealth for the property owning class while making people pay those rents by virtue of havin g to work ever harder for ever less secure and ever more unhealthy accommodation play right into the hands of those who see this as a model for society.

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