Tuesday, 06 October 2015

Welfare cuts clash with troubled families agenda

Plans to tackle 120,000 ‘troubled families’ might be derailed by changes to welfare benefits, local authorities have warned.

A report by the Child Poverty Action Group into the impact of welfare reform in London has found that local authorities said households likely to be hit by the changes to benefits may also have significant social problems.

The ‘troubled families’ initiative was launched by prime minister David Cameron in August 2011, in the wake of the riots in London and other cities. The programme aims to turn around the lives of 120,000 families with a history of anti-social behaviour.

But CPAG said its research into the impact of welfare reform on local authorities showed ‘conflicts’ between the changes and other government priorities.

‘Several local authorities had identified a cross over between families caught by the benefit cap and those meeting the criteria the government identifies families as requiring significant intervention and support,’ the report says.

‘Authorities face a dilemma between prioritising these families for help and therefore being seen to offer housing stability as a reward for potential anti-social behaviour, or of seeing these families’ lives destabilised by disruptions to their housing.’

The report, Between a rock and a hard place, looked at the impact of three welfare cuts on famililes in London: local housing allowance caps introduced in April 2011, the overall benefit cap due to come in from April 2013, and under-occupation penalties for working age social tenants claiming housing benefit that are due to come in at the same time.

It found the reforms will disproportionately hit children in London because 49 per cent of families affected by the benefit cap are in the capital.

‘Families already affected by the LHA caps are facing significant disruption to their children’s lives,’ the report states.

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