Friday, 25 July 2014

Homelessness is an unacceptable price to pay for a lower benefit bill, public poll reveals

Public oppose cuts that drive up homelessness

The British public will not tolerate housing benefit cuts if they lead to increased homelessness, according to exclusive new research.

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The unique study by Inside Housing and market research company Ipsos Mori provides a clear indication of where people think the government should draw the line in cutting benefit.

It reveals three in five people oppose spending less on housing benefit if it means an increase in homelessness. One in four ‘strongly oppose’ the cuts, with opposition spread consistently across most parts of the population.

The poll, of more than 1,000 British adults, is the first major test of public opinion on housing benefit reform since ministers announced plans, including lowering benefit payments by pegging them to the 30th percentile of local rents instead of the median used currently. Almost two thirds of participants, 65 per cent, said housing benefit spending should either rise or remain at present levels.

Homelessness experts said the survey should serve as a warning to ministers.

‘We have long been arguing that the government’s cuts to housing benefit are wrong, particularly because they will lead to an increase in homelessness. It seems the great British public agree,’ said Duncan Shrubsole, head of policy and strategy at charity Crisis. ‘The government should listen to the public, change course and rethink these cuts now before the lives of many thousands are uprooted and damaged.’

The findings come as it emerged some of England’s largest housing associations are holding a series of meetings with the Department for Work and Pensions to thrash out a deal on the direct payment of housing benefit.

Landlords are concerned that paying the new universal credit directly to tenants could see arrears shoot up and affect their ability to get loans to fund new homes.

Geoff Fimister, housing policy officer at Citizens Advice, called the poll ‘relatively encouraging’ and hoped it would reframe the debate on housing benefit.

‘So far the government’s comments on housing benefit have been highly tendentious because it wants to generate a climate of public opinion that is favourable to the cuts,’ he added.

Paul Rees, assistant director of the National Housing Federation, said the findings reflected a ‘growing sense of unease over the damage these reforms could cause to thousands of hard-up families and vulnerable people’.

A spokeperson for the DWP maintained ‘the current housing benefit system is unfair’.

Inside Housing’s ongoing What’s the Benefit? campaign is calling for fairer housing benefit reforms

Readers' comments (9)

  • Rick Campbell

    Benefit cuts attract opposition.

    The biggest drain on our welfare sysytem (effectively a massive annual subsidy to employers) - tax credits -- are not being cut as far as I know -- perhaps there's a connection between big business (employers), wages subsidy and the governmemt?

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  • So what is the Great British Public going to do about it...?

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  • Rick Campbell

    Robert .. nothing concrete will be done by the British public except a bit of whinging.

    We, of course, don't whinge on here ... we proffer criticism, constructive ideas, remind people of the lessons of history, slate government(s) performance and failures, etc., but we don't just whinge!

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    The demonisation campaign will no doubt rachet up a couple of notches over the weekend - perhaps we will be treated to more feckless breading stories courtesy of the Dail Maul, even though the latest benefit data shows that the greater proportion now claiming benefit are single and childless (excluding the aged and the infirm).

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  • Rick Campbell

    No change there then, Chris?

    pmsl (as they say on facebook) at your 'feckless breading' (-- crumbs another typo_-- feckless as in 'loafing about?

    Have a good weekend -- I'm bedridden again and have a christening to go on Sunday -- a 6 week old baby living with her proud and working parents (in their mid to late 20s) in what I describe as a housing association flat that is half the size of my 1 bedroom flat.

    So, I shall be amongst many people in housing need, physically disabled people, elderly, vulnerable, social housing tenants, owner occupiers, working families, teenagers, sixth formers, etc. -- a good cross section of pur communities/society in Macclesfield -- there might even be the odd feckless person there.

    I think that I will pick up a lot of views at this christening which may well inform various posts/threads on IH following the weekend's demonisation sessions.

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  • You dont suppose the Ipsos Mori Poll of 1000 adults happened to take place on a few inner city housing estates where the majority of residents might happen to be in receipt of Housing Benefit would you.

    If that's the case and if had taken place in Hampstead Garden Suburb the findings might have been somewhat different.

    Lies, lies, dammed lies, and then statistics !

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  • Rick Campbell

    Staristics, on average, are the same as the Shadow Chancellor -- a load of Eds! pmsl

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  • Housing Benefit will be increased in about 6 months - yet another u-turn.

    The British are nothing if not fair.

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  • Progressive Solutions Required

    Do share Don - where did you get that piece of news from?

    (FAIR? - the Tasmanian Aboriginals would disagree with you about the British if they had not all been shot; and lets not mention partition!)

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