Sunday, 05 July 2015

NHF attacks vote on 'unfair' welfare reforms

A decision by MPs to overturn a series of Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill will cause hardship for thousands of families, a housing body has warned.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, hit out after MPs voted against amendments which would have allowed underoccupying tenants to avoid the bedroom tax if they have one spare room if no other suitable accommodation is available.

The House of Commons also voted last night to reinstate plans for a £26,000 benefit cap for workless households. Mr Orr said that he would continue campaigning against the proposals.

Mr Orr said: ‘The decision by MPs to reject the Lords’ bedroom tax compromise is a blow to thousands of families in social housing across the country, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.

‘That over 70 organisations, from disabled charities to mortgage lenders, came together in support of this change to the Welfare Reform Bill shows just how important this issue is.

‘It is unjust to penalise people for under-occupying their homes when they have nowhere else to move to.

‘Given the level of opposition in the Lords to these proposals and their potential impact, it is totally wrong for the government to shut down discussion by claiming financial privilege. We will continue to campaign against these unfair proposals.’

Despite the votes, the government has made a number of concessions including giving claimants who have been in work for at least 12 months previously a nine-month grace period before the cap takes effect. Discretionary funding of up to £130 million has also been announced which will help people move

Mr Orr said: ‘While we welcome the government’s commitment to introduce a nine-month grace period for claimants hit by the overall benefit cap after losing their job, we remain concerned that this crude measure will lead to a rise in rent arrears, homelessness and child poverty.’

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