Some ‘highlights’ on the impact of benefit changes..

We’ve been for a wander around the web – and here are some informative snippets to give you a picture of what’s going on. Click through to read the full stories, or join us on Facebook where we share news and information..

So, to start… how are we doing so far? Everything is fine – isn’t it? Well.. No.

Since the first quarter of 2012/2013, the rates for the number of accepted homeless application due to the end of an assured short hold tenancy have rocketed in the borough. Brent accepted almost 100 in the last quarter and no other borough accepted more than 50.

The number of rough sleepers has risen 267 per cent, from 39 in 2010/2011 to 235 in 2012/13, compared with a national increase of 23 per cent.’ – Harrow Observer

***

This isn’t just happening in Brent. Slowly but surely these cuts are claiming the homes and lives of benefit claimants across London – forcing families to uproot their children and move miles to homes in unfamilliar places.

Cuts to benefits had left local authorities with too few properties in their boroughs where they could afford to house claimants, the MPs found.

Westminster Council had placed tenants in Bognor Regis and Kent, while Newham Council said any government restriction on where local authorities could place homeless people would be ‘hugely unhelpful’

[…] ‘It nevertheless appears inevitable that councils in areas with high rents, London in particular, will place homeless households outside the area, including in coastal towns,’ the report says. – Inside Housing

***

As the benefit cap forces Enfield families out of the borough, the council predicts more people will be faced with eviction and homelessness.

Figures obtained using Freedom of Information requests show families with children have been relocated using discretionary housing payments.

In the first two months after the benefit cap was introduced in Enfield, 15 families with 46 children were moved out of London. – This is Local London

***

Housing is too expensive across the country – so how can it help to move hundreds of families out of London and into other areas, pushing up their housing prices?

The Home Truths report identifies local authorities that are “affordable” for a couple with a child requiring a two-bedroom property on a household income of £22,000 a year. Affordable is defined as a rent that is no more than 35% of net household income.

On that basis, 125 of 376 local authorities in Britain (33%) are unaffordable for less-affluent working families. – BBC

***

But don’t worry… it could get even worse:

Chancellor George Osborne is considering lowering the benefits cap by a further £6,000, one of his aides confirmed to Inside Housing today.

The Treasury will base a decision on whether to make the further cut depending on the effectiveness of the current benefit cap, which began its national roll-out on Monday, in reducing the welfare bill.

An aide told Inside Housing: ‘We want to see how the policy beds in. But clearly over time, lowering the cap is an option.’ He confirmed backbench Tory MPs had called on Mr Osborne to consider making the further cut.

***

And is all of this misery worth it? Is it saving any money? Not exactly.

Recent changes to housing benefit mean that council tenants who are deemed to have surplus bedrooms will see their housing benefit reduced. Coupled with the benefit cap due to be introduced later this year, this will mean that hundreds of households in Harrow will have to pay out extra money, or move to a smaller home.

To try to mitigate this, the Government has increased the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) that it gives to Councils to help with ‘housing costs’ for some residents in financial hardship. This year Harrow has been given £1.2million – a 400 per cent increase on last year. – Harrow Observer

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