Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Housing Benefit

As BBC Women’s Pay Gap Dominates News, Benefits Freeze leads to Evictions.

with 107 comments

Evictions reach a record high - new report for JRF published

More Important than Pay Gap for Women at BBC? 

No doubt this is important, so important that you can barely turn the radio or the telly on without hearing about it.

45 BBC women urge action now from Tony Hall on salaries as Claire Balding reveals Women’s Hour pays 40 per cent less than other shows.

But I can’t help feeling, call me a workerist, a miserabilist, and all the rest, that this is a lot more important.

100 tenants a day lose homes as rising rents and benefit freeze hit

(Thanks Enigma and others…)

Charities demand action to tackle toll of soaring housing costs, welfare cuts and ‘no fault’ evictions.

A record number of renters are being evicted from their homes, with more than 100 tenants a day losing the roof over their head, according to a shocking analysis of the nation’s housing crisis. The spiralling costs of renting a property and a long-running freeze to housing benefit are being blamed for the rising number of evictions among Britain’s growing army of tenants.

More than 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015, according to a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). It is an increase of a third since 2003 and the highest level recorded. The research appears to confirm fears that a mixture of rising costs and falling state support would lead to a rise in people being forced out of their homes. It will raise concerns that even those in work are struggling to pay their rent.

High numbers of “no-fault” evictions by private landlords is driving the increase. More than 80% of the extra evictions had occurred under a Section 21 notice, which gives a tenant two months to leave. The landlord does not have to give a reason and there does not need to be any wrongdoing on the part of the tenant.

The study found that changes in welfare benefits have combined to make rents unaffordable to claimants in many areas. Housing benefit was no longer covering the cost of renting in some cases, with average shortfalls ranging from £22 to £70 a month outside of London, and between £124 and £1,036 in inner LondonHousing benefit has not risen in line with private rents since 2010, and a current freeze means the rates paid will not increase until 2020.

The number of tenants evicted from their properties reached a record high, according to a new report highlighting the misery and insecurity faced by renters struggling on low incomes.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

The report shows:

  • the rented sector has grown in the past 12 years by nearly a half, and the number of tenants being evicted from their homes has grown by a third: 10,000 more tenants lost their homes in 2015 than in 2003
  • the number of tenants evicted by private landlords exceeded the number evicted by social landlords for the first time in 2014
  • the increase in repossessions in recent years has been almost entirely due to the increasing use of ‘no fault’ evictions, using Section 21 (S21) of the Housing Act 1988
  • the use of S21 is highly concentrated geographically – four out of every five repossessions using S21 are in London, the East and the South East, and nearly two-thirds are in London alone.

JRF is calling for the Government to end the freeze on support for housing costs, and uprate Housing Benefit in line with local rents.

According to recent research carried out by CCHPR for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the growing gap between rents and support for housing costs is a key factor behind the rise in private rented sector evictions.

The research included in depth interviews with tenants on low incomes and identified the high levels of stress and disruption caused by insecure housing.

‘With the £50 a month [housing benefit shortfall] coming out of the JSA – that’s almost a week’s money in itself – and then you’ve got the other bills…I just couldn’t make it work. I had to choose… do I pay the rent… electricity… buy some food?’

Changes in welfare benefits have not kept up with rising rents, causing misery for tenants as they cope with inevitable financial pressures. Furthermore, the rising number of ‘no fault’ (Section 21) evictions gives rise to insecurity as tenants on low incomes face a complete lack of options when they lose their home.

The full report ‘Poverty, evictions and forced moves’ can be downloaded here.

We call for Labour to Announce Plans to End the Benefit Freeze.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 24, 2017 at 11:12 am

Rent Arrears Grow 5 Times under Universal Credit.

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Image result for universal credit cartoon

Happy Christmas Message!

Some of our regulars have suggested that we will soon face a withered JobCentre, information technology supplied by Nintendo, outsourcing of Housing Benefit to Abbots Lettings, payments turned in loans run by BrightHouse, and ‘advice’ services provided by William Hill Racing Consultants.

Jest ye not….

Meanwhile,

The average rent arrears of a tenant receiving Universal Credit is almost five times the average of those not in receipt of the welfare payment, according to new research.

Data and insight provider HouseMark carried out a detailed analysis of benchmarking data submitted by its members to examine the impact of changes in welfare benefits on social landlords’ income, arrears and collection costs.

While rent collection rates have improved over the five-year period, the report also found that more money is being spent on collecting rent each year.

The Welfare Reform Impact Report collected data from a cross-section of members managing up to 2.5 million properties and includes figures from April 2011 up to March 2016.

In October 2016 HouseMark surveyed members of its Welfare Reform Impact Club on the effect of Universal Credit on arrears rates. It found that the average rent arrears debt of a Universal Credit claimant is £618, compared to average non-Universal Credit arrears of £131 per property.

With average social rents around £96 per week, this Universal Credit debt equates to six to seven weeks’ rent.

Across each quartile, rent collection rates have improved over the five years between 2011/2012 and 2015/2016. In spite of this overall improvement, performance in the years 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 worsened before picking up. These years coincide with the introduction of many welfare reforms that affected tenants’ ability to pay the rent.

Using estimates based on members’ data, HouseMark found that more money is being spent on collecting rent each year, and this expenditure is rising faster than inflation. It estimates that UK social landlords spent over £720 million collecting rent in 2015/2016, a real terms rise of over £100m from 2011/2012.

The data suggests that the rise in expenditure on managing rent arrears and collection is driven by an increase in human resources – i.e. more people being employed to collect rent and manage arrears rather an increase in average pay costs.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 17, 2016 at 11:10 am

Homeless Rise Linked to Benefit Changes.

with 81 comments

The Human Face of Austerity.

Government austerity to blame for 30% rise in homelessness, says parliamentary committee,

Reports the Independent.

MPs warn that the number of homeless people is rising because most housing benefit claimants have to pay rent out of their state payments, rather than it being straight to their landlords

The Government’s welfare reforms are driving up homelessness, according to MPs who conducted the first inquiry into the scale of the problem for 10 years.

In a report, the Communities and Local Government Select Committee found that official figures underestimate the risen in homelessness and demanded urgent action to tackle it. The estimated number of rough sleepers in England rose by 30 per cent to 3,569 between 2014 and last autumn – a quarter of them in London.

This will come as no surprise to anybody with eyes.

Walk around Ipswich and you can see the numbers of people begging in the streets: it is striking.

In London you can see people sleeping rough, right up such Tourist centres as Trafalgar Square, and by the West End theatres in Cambridge Circus – not coincidentally next to the site of one of Victorian London’s worst ‘rookeries’, that is, slums.

The MPs warned that the number of homeless people is rising because most housing benefit claimants have to pay rent out of their state payments. They said all claimants should have the option of their rent  being paid directly to landlords to reduce their chance of getting into arrears and to encourage landlords to rent to tenants at risk of becoming homeless. Many 18 to 21 year-olds are “at significant risk” of homelessness, and the MPs proposed that those losing their job should have a “grace period” of one or two months before losing the housing element of Universal Credit.

Calling for greater financial incentives to work, they said: “It cannot be right that someone must choose between the support they need and employment.”

The committee concluded: “The impact of the welfare reforms of recent years has increased pressure on levels of homelessness.” It added that  the annual cap on benefit payments to one family – £20,000 and £23,000 in London – could worsen the  problem.

The MPs called for women, single people and those with mental health problems to be given extra help. They heard evidence that women were driven into prostitution to avoid sleeping on the streets and said  victims of domestic violence were particularly at risk of becoming homeless.

The committee took the unusual step of endorsing a Private Member’s Bill to be debated in the Commons in October which would give councils new duties to prevent homelessness and help homeless people.

This was also entirely predictable, given the mean-spirited intention behind the ‘reform’.

In a separate report, the Tory modernisers’ think tank Policy Exchange said jobless people aged 25 and under are more likely to have their benefits stopped or reduced for not doing enough to find work than any other age group. It found that young adults account for more than a third of benefit sanctions but account for less than a fifth of claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance. Of the 101,640 young people claiming it last November, 5,812 received a sanction.

Policy Exchange called for a shake-up of benefits and support for 16 to 25 year-olds, including the creation of youth employment centres.

Homeless too often given ‘meaningless advice’ by councils – MPs.

Reports the BBC.

Homeless people are too often given meaningless and ineffectual advice by councils in England, MPs have said.

A Communities and Local Government Select Committee report found homeless people are too often “badly treated” by councils, saying they should have a legal duty to give meaningful support.

Homelessness is increasing and a new government plan is required, MPs added.

However, councils said they needed more money and powers, saying they “cannot tackle this challenge alone”.

The report urged the government to support the Homelessness Reduction Bill – proposed by the Conservative MP Bob Blackman in June – to impose tougher conditions on councils and force them to offer emergency accommodation for up to two months.

Official figures published by the government show that local authorities approved 14,780 households’ applications for homelessness assistance between 1 January and 30 March 2016.

This was up 9% on the same quarter in 2015.

However, the report warned that the statistics did not capture the full scale of homelessness, for example many “hidden homeless” who may be staying with friends or not have sought help.

If they had any decency they would listen to people like Doug, commenting on this Blog.

2 months emergency housing, how did they come up with that exactly as what do they feel will happen after. Are these homeless people going to magically find a property to rent in that 2 months that they couldn’t find before. Do government or even the public believe that the homeless have never looked and tried to secure a property.

And what about DWP and conditionality on the homeless, their expected to look for work or face being sanctioned which is counter intuitive when you consider besides the big issue, no employer will hire a homeless person. DWP know this only to well unless they want to assert every single DWP worker right up to the appointed minister are complete and utter idiots ill placed in the position they are in.

We only have to look at the way UC was developed to sanction housing benefit to know tory government intent and how when even applying for unemployment benefit, your instantly faced with a screen demanding i quote, ” an address you reside at”, which if you haven’t one, you can’t proceed with the claim and its been this way since it was first released and has been mentioned numerous time to DWP not that really it isn’t glaringly obvious from the get go. For the record they don’t even confront homelessness till further into the application and if that wasn’t bad enough, later on it asks for a phone number and again wont allow the person to proceed with the application for benefits if they don’t own a phone and this one gets me, DWP staff have absolutely no answer to it and at best could only if they did and I’m not saying they do, incite the person to add a fraudulently number and then ring DWP to give a change of details.

Now according to the dictionary vulnerable means – exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally yet DWP and local council have their own definition and this has been going on for at least a decade, that somehow, if you’re a certain age and of a certain health that your be perfectly ok living on the streets. DWP even expanded this to instruct public service staff NOT to treat people with certain mental illnesses like schizophrenia for example as VULNERABLE.

I’ve witnessed up and down the country, many a homeless person deliberately breaking the law just so they can get a temporary roof over their head and food in the mouth, especially in the depths of winter around Christmas. The amount of mentally ill prisoners is also quite alarming.

Now i and others have said from day one of these welfare reforms that their would be a knock on as people simply don’t lie down and die and will lead to an increase in costs towards the NHS and law enforcement and criminal retention so oh what a surprize certain ministers are now using it to justify change. Constantly others and i have demonstrated how being in prison despite the violence (statistically your odds of being attacked on the street are higher) is easier than being under conditionality, where a murder, a rapist, even a terrorist gets food and a bed no matter the horrible details of their crime yet raise your voice at a DWP staff member, not fulfil your conditions by a mm and WHAM, all monies are suspended.

A week in prison costs the taxpayer £538 a week, a massive 7 times more than the £74 a person gets claiming unemployment. Malnutrition and the illnesses it causes aren’t any cheaper and the recent revelation that a lot of homeless people develop addictions after going onto the streets and not before as previously believed. Add to that being regularly attacked by the public at night and you can easily imagine the financial burden placed on the NHS.

Oh for the record its not strictly 2 months housing, its actually UPTO meaning it could well mean a week or even possibly less, who knows at this juncture. What’s being prescribed is clearly manufactured by people who don’t understand the problems of being homeless in today’s UK as they actually believe by giving a person a house for 2 months (said on ann derbyshire) that magically they will find another, so we are now back where i started and that’s my whole point,

When you’re homeless all you ever do is get the run around only to end up where you started.

And they would also listen to Enigma:

35.When we asked Giles Peaker, Chair of the Housing Law Practitioners Association, what the future of homelessness would be if no action was taken, he was unequivocal:

Will it get worse? Yes. Will it get worse faster? Yes. That is already happening, and is just going to continue … One thing that could be done is to stop making it worse. That is the simple answer. There are some immediate triggers facing us … The roll-out of the reduced benefit cap is going to have a fairly dramatic effect across the country, whereas the first £26,000 one basically affected London. £23,000 and £20,000 outside of London is going to have a dramatic national effect, really taking large swathes of public sector tenancies out of affordability for families in that situation. If the rents continue to increase whilst there is the LHA freeze, without wishing to be overly melodramatic, we are heading towards a serious crisis.48

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmcomloc/40/4006.htm#_idTextAnchor018

Any person with a shred of decency who  listened to the Dougs and the Enigmas of this world would be boiling with anger.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 18, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Universal Credit to Create Homelessness.

with 91 comments

In my distant youth the DWP was called the DHSS, and the JobCentre was still known, though not officially, from an even earlier time, as the Labour Exchange.

Wood Green Dole office – also the place you went to get your National Insurance Number and your first job – had a special section where the homeless, often alcoholic, used to go every day to get their pittance.

They are talking about making – and in some cases are actually making – some of the out of work also sign on daily.

The 1970s lot were referred to as “down and outs”, probably a kinder expression than what the present government thinks of us.

There were not many openly homeless people in the 1970s.  I suppose the only places you could see the homeless in the streets in the 1970s was underneath the arches at Charing Cross where the Sally Army did a night kitchen. * There were hostels in the centre of London, including a well-known one by what is now the Saint Mungo’s Hostel in Endell Street. Hostels, B and Bs, it was not a pleasant life, but was it as bad as sleeping in skips or on the pavements?

That began with the arrival of Thatcher to power in 1979.

If it was bad then, now every time you visit London you see people in the streets begging, with all their belongings and sleeping bags on them,  and guarding their little encampments.

There is a new group in Ipswich, in Dog’s Head Street.

Report after report points out that tightening the claiming rules, making everybody prove their 35 Hour a week Job Search, increased the numbers.

As with sanctions swelling the ranks of people quietly queuing up in Food Banks, so the growth in homelessness continues.

* “Underneath the Arches” is a 1932 song words and music by Bud Flanagan, and additional lyrics by Reg Connelly.According to a television programme broadcast in 1957, Bud Flanagan said that he wrote the song in Derby in 1927, and first performed it a week later at the Pier Pavilion,Southport.] It refers to the arches of Derbys Friargate Railway Bridge and to the homeless men who slept there during the Great Depression. It was however taken by Londoners to refer to the Arches in Charing Cross, as can be seen from poster of the  adjacent Embankment above.

This is set to become even more of a problem.

‘Shambolic’ Universal Credit Scheme Will Lead To Rising Homelessness, Say Landlords

Universal Credit rent delays mean a growing number of private landlords are refusing to rent to low-income families.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 20, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Eu Migrant Plans to Hit Unemployed Young People as well as Working EU Citizens.

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https://i2.wp.com/www.youngminds.org.uk/assets/0000/0527/20100601_yminds_246_article_detail.jpg

Young People Again the Target of Tory Discrimination.

EU migrant benefit plan ‘could hit thousands of young Britons’.

Reports the BBC.

Thousands of young Britons could lose the right to claim some benefits for four years as part of government plans to tighten the rules for EU migrants.

Introducing a four-year residency test for migrants is a key part of the UK’s negotiations of its EU membership.

But lawyers say applying such a test to migrants alone would breach EU laws, and the government is now considering extending the rule to all UK benefit applicants, from the age of 18.

Ministers would not discuss the plans.

This is the crunch:

Why are Britons affected?

One option is to implement a four-year residency rule for all benefit claimants. This could mean Britons, even if they had lived in the UK all their lives, from their 18th birthday would be ineligible for the benefits for four years until they reach 22.

The changes would affect working tax credits and housing benefits. About 50,000 UK citizens under the age of 22 receive tax credits. Most of them have children. The proposal is currently being discussed by ministers and senior officials.

The Mirror adds,

Thousands of young people could be blocked from claiming tax credits and housing benefit so the Tories doesn’t have to pay them to EU migrants.

The Government wants to stop people coming to the UK claiming benefits until they’ve lived in the country for four years.

But EU rules prevent governments from discriminating against migrants, so ministers are considering extending the restrictions to British workers between 18 and 22.

It’s thought as many as 50,000 British workers will be affected – many of them young parents.

Labour warned most people would find the restrictions unacceptable.

Shadow work and pensions minister Stephen Timms said the Government should consider adopting the Opposition’s plan to restrict access to benefits for new migrants for two years rather than four years.

He said this would affect fewer people if a lack of treaty change during the renegotiation of the UK’s EU membership meant the restrictions also had to apply to Britons.

According to the BBC, without treaty change – which British officials have previously confirmed may not be in place by the time of the in/out referendum promised by the end of 2017 – the Government has had to consider plans which would extend the ban to Britons to prevent “direct discrimination”.

This is an example of what happens when you start on the path of discriminating between groups of people.

It is worth noting that migrants will be hit when working.

It is unacceptable that one group of workers will get less money than another.

And that’s before we see the knock-on effect on the young.

Housing Benefit Removal: Young People Face Uncertain Futures.

with 65 comments

Government Set to Swell Young Rough Sleeper Numbers.

YMCA report predicts more homeless young with housing benefit cuts.

‘Uncertain Futures’ is a new report that seeks to challenge some of the assumptions underpinning the argument that many young people are choosing a life on benefits and draw out the types of young people who may be adversely affected by these reforms when they are introduced in April 2017.
By removing automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, the Government could be in danger of inadvertently taking away support from the young people who need it the most, and in doing so, exposing many more vulnerable people to the risk of becoming homeless and therefore damaging their prospects of finding work in the future.
YMCA agrees that action is needed to address youth unemployment but, without protections, thousands of vulnerable, young people will face uncertain futures, not knowing if they will have anywhere they can call home and leaving them less able to find work.
In changing entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds, YMCA believes that detailed measures should be put in place to ensure the most vulnerable young people in the country continue to receive protection and support during their time of need.
As such, as a minimum, protection should be put in place for young people who are:

  • Pregnant or have dependent children
  • Care leavers or former children in need
  • Homeless or have a history of homelessness
  • Estranged from their parents.

Amongst other points Uncertain Futures notes:

Many of the young people claiming are doing so because they have no other option 2,100 18 to 21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit have at least one dependent  child to look after.

7,200 young care leavers between 19 and 21 years old in England are currently out of work and would  potentially be eligible to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit.

Between 5,800 and 6,400 18 to 21 year olds were identified as homeless and in priority need last year.

Nearly 1,400 18 to 21 year olds currently living in YMCA supported accommodation claim Jobseeker’s  Allowance and Housing Benefit.

For the young people claiming benefits, it is far from an attractive lifestyle choice.

Most young people are entitled to £57.90 a week in Jobseeker’s Allowance.

44% of 18 to 21 year olds claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and Housing Benefit get less than £75 a week in help towards their housing costs.

It states,

” this report demonstrates, to believe that removing entitlement to Housing Benefit will drive all young people to ‘earn or learn’ is to misunderstand many of those that rely upon this part of the social security system.

It is also to underestimate how important having a stable and safe home is in enabling these vulnerable young  people to find training and employment.

By removing automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21 year olds the Government could be in  danger of inadvertently taking away support from the young people who need it most, and in doing so, exposing many more vulnerable young people to the risk of becoming homeless and therefore damaging their prospects of finding work in the future.

Action is needed to address youth unemployment, but without protections thousands of vulnerable young  people will face uncertain futures, not knowing if they will have anywhere they can call home and leaving them less able to find work.

The Guardian writes,

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “This report is deliberately misleading since we have been very clear that vulnerable young people including care-leavers and people with children will be exempt from this policy.

“We want to make sure young people get the support they need to move into work and do not slip straight into a life on benefits.”

The government is likely to exempt care-leavers, those with dependent children, disabled youngsters who are unable to work, and young people who have been working for six months before claiming.

YMCA says that before exemptions 19,000 young people currently claim job seeker’s allowance (JSA) and housing benefit, equivalent to less than 1% of all housing benefit claimants.

It rejects the idea that this group is pursuing a “lifestyle choice”, pointing out that nearly three-quarters of this cohort claim for less than six months, suggesting it is a short-term safety net. JSA is £57.90 a week, while average housing benefit payments are less than £75.

The charity points out out that the numbers of 18- to 21-year-olds claiming both entitlements has halved in the last two years and is falling faster than any other age group. Over two-thirds of 18-21-year-olds live at home with parents, a proportion that has risen over the past decade.

Written by Andrew Coates

August 4, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Young People – especially the Out-of-Work – are Being Hammered as Welfare Privatisation Looms.

with 28 comments

Iain Duncan Smith Hammers Young as he Plans to Let more Private Firms Make Money from Welfare.

UK ‘failing its young’ as gulf grows between generations reports the Observer this morning.

I cannot help feeling that this is one of the worst things you could say about any government and society

The prospects for young Britons have deteriorated sharply since the Tories entered government in 2010 as money and resources have been targeted at the older generation, according to a devastating new report by economists.

The latest findings of the Intergenerational Foundation, to be published this week, highlight a sharply widening gap on its “fairness index” between people under 30 and those over 60.

The report illustrates how the younger generation is increasingly paying the price for supporting those already in, or approaching, older age as the cost of funding their pensions and healthcare rises.

Since 2010, the report shows, there has been a 10% decline in young people’s prospects across a range of measures including housing, education, health, income and debt. It comes amid a growing backlash from young people against George Osborne’s budget last week in which he announced welfare cuts that will hit many young families, ended automatic entitlement to housing benefit for those aged 18 to 21, and replaced maintenance grants for students with a loan system. Osborne also unveiled plans for a new “national living wage” that will rise to £9 an hour by 2020, giving millions of people a pay rise. But it will not apply to those under 25.

After the budget we noted this,

The tone of the chancellor’s strict carrot-and-stick approach was established by his planned “youth obligation” for 18 to 21-year-olds on universal credit, which he said would provide them with “an intensive regime of support from day one of their benefit claim”, from April 2017. At the same time, Osborne said housing benefit would no longer be automatically available for 18 to 21-year-olds.

Is there worse to come?

Yes: in the end this for all of us (Welfare Weekly)

Iain Duncan Smith has hinted that the future of Britain’s welfare system could rest in the arms of private insurance schemes.

Speaking to the Telegraph, the Work and Pensions Secretary says young people should be encouraged to save into flexible accounts, from which they can then draw out money at times of sickness or unemployment.

The model is very similar to unemployment insurance schemes in the United States, but would work more like systems that exist in the far East – such as ‘Fortune Accounts’ in Singapore.

“We need to support the kind of products that allow people through their lives to dip in and out when they need the money for sickness or care or unemployment”, said Iain Duncan Smith.

He added: “We need to encourage people to save from day one, but they need to know that they can get some of the money out when their circumstances change.

Iain Duncan Smith said that although this is not yet official government policy, he is “keen to look at it, as a long-term way forward for the 21st century.”