Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Local Housing Allowance

As Local Housing Allowance is Frozen DWP Minister Thérèse Coffey Gets £1,885 for her London Pied à Terre.

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Robert Goodwill's visit to Scotland and Minister Coffey's visit to  Salisbury pub re-opening - Defra in the media

Coffey Celebrates Nice Little Earner for Tory MPs.

Tory MPs claim almost £3m in housing rent on expenses

Welfare secretary Thérèse Coffey, whose department runs the LHA system, claimed £1,885 a month.

Revelation comes at same time as government freezes housing allowance, which could drive many tenants into debt.

A spokesperson for tenants’ union Acorn said: “To commit to this [LHA] freeze at the same time as huge swathes of the government’s own MPs are claiming extortionate amounts on expenses to pay rent on second homes is disgraceful and perfectly demonstrates the contempt with which they treat low-income people in this country – particularly given many of these MPs are claiming these expenses for second homes at the same time as raking in profit from homes they are renting out to tenants, while already taking home salaries far beyond what most people could ever imagine.”

The Tory MP claiming the highest rent expenses is Helen Whately, minister for social care. Despite earning £113,612 as an MP and minister, she claimed £3,250 in housing rent from the taxpayer each month between April and November 2020 – £26,000 in total during those eight months.

If Whately claims £3,250 a month for the whole of 2020/21, she will receive £39,000 towards her rent during the financial year. This is higher than the estimated average annual pay of her constituents, the average full-time earnings in the UK, the average nurse’s salary – and over double the average full-time care worker’s pay in 2019/20.

Suffolk Coastal, Coffey’s Constituency, is within commuting range of London.

This is the background:

Benefits system increasing homelessness in London, research finds.

A report from Homeless Link, titled Homelessness and welfare benefits in London, found that both the frozen Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the benefit cap mean people claiming benefits cannot afford the housing that is available in the capital.

The report notes that the number of single people claiming Universal Credit in London increased by 88% between March, when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the UK, and August last year.

Meanwhile, an analysis found that 24 of the 32 boroughs in London do not have enough shared private rented accommodation to house those claiming the housing element of Universal Credit or housing benefit.

Across those 24 boroughs, only 54% of shared private rented accommodation would be affordable to those claiming benefits for their housing, the analysis found.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, chancellor Rishi Sunak reversed a multiyear freeze on the LHA rate, which determines how much housing benefit private renters receive, to ensure benefits covered the lowest third of rents in a local area.

Written by Andrew Coates

April 11, 2021 at 12:31 pm

Freeze on Local Housing Allowance to Hit Low-waged and Claimants.

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Housing Benefit or Local Housing Allowance (LHA) in UK | DNS Accountants

Tories Ready to Throw Us Out of our Gaffs.

This really struck me yesterday.

Coming originally from London, and having many friends there, people talk all the time about the sky-high rents from the thieves, sorry, landlords. Someone I know spends nearly half her salary on funding the lifestyle of these idlers. Hell knows how you can get by if you’re on Universal Credit or Legacy Benefits.

When I had a gaff down Kentish Town in the 1970s we paid about a quarter of our wages in rent.

 

Benefits freeze will leave tenants across Britain facing rent arrears of £1,000

Guardian.

Low-income tenants across much of Britain will be left hundreds of pounds worse off from next month due to the government quietly imposing a real-terms cut in housing benefit, the Observer can reveal.

From April, the government is freezing the amount of local housing allowance (LHA), meaning tenants will receive the same amount of money as last financial year, even where rents have gone up. LHA is paid to tenants in privately rented homes, including those on universal credit.

In some parts of the country, tenants are set to lose more than £1,000 a year as a result of a combination of rising rents and the new benefit freeze, Observer analysis of government data shows. Those tenants affected will have to find the money from elsewhere, or else face growing rent arrears.

There is already evidence of an arrears crisis, with Citizens Advice estimating that half a million private tenants are behind on rent. The ban on most evictions, imposed at the start of the pandemic, was extended last week to the end of May.

“The freeze to LHA rates is yet another example of the government abandoning tenants – this will force many out of the private sector and on to the streets, and will force many more to choose between feeding their families and paying their rent,” said Nick Ballard, head organiser of tenants’ union Acorn.

Now this is the Tories’ responsibility, and specifically fat boy Eric Pickles who when not eating babies, introduced the ‘local’ Housing Allowance,  but I can’t help remembering this:

 

 

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 15, 2021 at 11:10 am

The Daily Misery of Universal Credit – Rent Short-Falls, Draconian Sanctions, Waits for already Miserly Payments.

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Image result for universal credit"

“If  they wanted  to set up something to defeat the objectives it was meant to deliver, Universal Credit couldn’t have done a better job…”

 

Every day there are people in Ipswich Library with problems about Universal Credit.

A major difficulty is rent.

Local Housing Allowance, set up under Labour in 2008, with a number of objectives, including ” inciting”  people to find cheaper accommodation, was never meant to cover the rent for all properties.

Now it’s created out of control problems.

I can’t imagine people I know in London, in work, paying £200 a week (this, believe me, in not made up)  for a room in a shared flat could if they became unemployed and reliant on Local Housing Allowance and Universal Credit.

We all know that people end up cutting back on food and heating to pay for a place to live in – if they can manage that.

Or end up homeless.

Now the triumphant Tories intend to make things worse.

if you wade through the details of this announcement you’ll find that one layer of -meagre – support is about to end.

Apparently it’s because a 1,7% increase means it’s no longer needed.

Targeted Affordability Funding ends as LHA freeze thaws

24Housing.

DWP Minister says the 1.7% increase to the LHA rate negated the need for the funding scheme.

Targeted Affordability Funding (TAF) is over – ending with thehawing of the LHA (Local Housing Allowance) freeze to be replaced by Discretionary Housing Payments.

DWP Minister Will Quince confirmed the end in responding to a written Commons question from Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey.

TAF was introduced in 2014 to shore up LHA rates that had shifted furthest from real local market rents.

Four years on, a report from CIH said TAF had a negligible impact in reducing the number of LHA rates with a gap – being capped at 3% of current rate regardless of the size of the gap.

Healey asked if the DWP was going to maintain TAF for local housing allowance from April this year, when the LHA freeze ends.

Quince said the 1.7% increase to the LHA rate negated the need for TAF.

“For individuals who may require more support, Discretionary Housing Payments are available,” he said.

TAF typically covered 10% – 30% of the gap with the 30th percentile rent before the award was made.

The replacement rates were higher for the shared rate and slightly higher for the four-bed rate – intended to partly reflect the fact that the 30th percentile for both was more volatile in being likely to fall back in years subsequent to an award.

To the CIH, the low replacement rates meant that, on its own, TAF was incapable of keeping LHA rates reasonably well aligned to local (30th percentile) rents.

Last year, a report from Shelter said that as the freeze thawed additional TAF must be made available – with changes made to the way it is administered to ensure those most at risk of homelessness received adequate amounts.

That’s just one part of the welfare regime under Universal Credit.

 Aasma Day in the Huffington  Post does a brilliant job in looking at it on the ground.

Oldham Piloted Universal Credit 7 Years Ago. Here’s The Grim Reality Of What Happened Since.

“If they wanted  to set up something to defeat the objectives it was meant to deliver, Universal Credit couldn’t have done a better job,” says the chair of a housing association in Oldham.

Oldham was one of the areas that volunteered to be a pilot site for Universal Credit in 2013 in the hope it would simplify the benefits system and encourage more people back into work.

But seven years on, those hit by the benefits change tell a different story.

One housing association told HuffPost UK that it lost in the region of £400,000 in rent during the first year of Universal Credit  – money which it won’t recover.  Unlike housing benefit, which was paid direct to the association, Universal Credit is handed direct to the claimant. Currently, 41% of the housing association’s tenants are in arrears.

The social landlord says some of its customers are struggling so much due to the wait for Universal Credit and the problems they experience applying for it, in the last 12 months, they referred an unprecedented 199 people to food banks.

Speaking to  Vinny Roche, chief executive of First Choice Homes, we find,

 “The safety net for the most vulnerable in society has been completely eroded.” he said: “If they wanted to set up something to defeat the objectives it was meant to deliver, Universal Credit couldn’t have done a better job.”

His major criticism of Universal Credit is the five-week wait when people are having to borrow to survive. “You have some of the poorest people in the country having to wait weeks for their money.

“When they finally get their payment, they already owe a fortune to other people, or worse still, to loan sharks.

“The people in real need are now on less money, receive less welfare payments and the  support mechanisms that once helped them have gone. Then the systems for applying for benefits and the sanctions are a lot more draconian.

“A combination of all these things is driving people into abject poverty.”

…..

“The current system doesn’t work. We really need radical change if we are serious about fixing the safety net, reducing poverty and inequality and making sure there is a support network in place for the most vulnerable.”

Read the article in full through the link above.

Michel Says,

“Universal Credit stinks.” he said. “It definitely does not make life better for people. I was depressed all the time when I was on it and didn’t have any money and couldn’t do anything.

The ‘I’ has this story today,

Universal Credit: Seven years after the roll-out of the benefit, the prescription forms for free medication are finally updated

A charity for patients said the updated forms were ‘better late than never’

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 25, 2020 at 10:08 am

Why isn’t this a Universal Credit Election?

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There are over 2,300,000 (latest figures, July 2019) people on Universal Credit.

There were 20 million people claiming DWP benefits at August 2018 alone (most recent full figures).

Benefits and Universal Credit should be key election issues.

To take two examples:

Housing benefit no longer enough for struggling families to afford any Ipswich rental properties

Ipswich Star, today,

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism could not find a single two bed property in Ipswich that was affordable on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) during a recent snapshot search.

The TBIJ research found that only one in 20 of the two-bed properties advertised for rent nationally were affordable on LHA. Across most Suffolk and Essex just a fraction of the properties advertised for rent would be affordable on LHA.

It means many families are having to make tough decisions to cope.

LHA is supposed to cover the cheapest 30% of properties in that area. But it was frozen in 2016 as a cost-cutting measure, intended to save £1.3 billion a year, rising to about £1.7 billion by 2020-21.

Although the number of affordable rent homes created in Suffolk has risen over recent years – reaching 500 for the first time in 2017/18 – councils still rely on private landlords to provide much of the housing for benefit recipients.

The article goes into the problems of renting and Local Housing Allowance  – which affects the whole country – in depth.

Read it.

Then there is, something that’s hardly a secret.

Why isn’t this the food bank election?

In the world’s sixth richest country, a record number of people will be starving at Christmas.

A record number of people will use food banks this Christmas. The busiest month for food banks last year was December, and there has been a general rise in food bank use since then (April to September this year saw a 23 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2018). We’re heading for a record high this winter, according to the Trussell Trust food bank charity.

There will also be people who go without income over the Christmas period. Universal Credit, the new welfare system, has a five-week waiting time for the first payment. This delay has not been reduced by the government, despite it driving up food bank use. People applying for Universal Credit now will go without money over the Christmas period, unless they meet tight criteria for an emergency loan.

Chakelian says that this issue – we could add Benefits as such – have not been talked about in the election.

Why?

Perhaps it’s because the Labour party, which is more sympathetic to these things and has tried to come up with answers, is distracted. Perhaps it’s because the Conservatives don’t accept their manifesto is forecasted to bring about record child poverty, or don’t believe they play a part at all. Perhaps it’s because charities that usually campaign on these things have to submit to extra-strict impartiality rules around election time. Perhaps it’s because media outlets decided this would be the “Brexit election”, once and for all.

Perhaps it’s also because many people, that is many amongst those who vote, are not going to be swayed by talking about the real world of Universal Credit, benefits, and poverty.

Let’s follow this example and bring these unwelcome, difficult, subjects, into the election.

Our contributors have plenty of ideas!

A photo highlighting the huge imbalance between Britain’s richest and poorest people has gone viral on Facebook – and generated awareness of homelessness at Christmas.

Posted in the Facebook group ‘Sh*t London’, Cliff Judson’s breathtaking snapshot shows the plush and extravagant display outside House of Fraser’s flagship store on London’s Oxford Street – while homelessness in is on the increase.

The 43-year-old Londoner was aiming to highlight poverty at Christmas time, when there are more visible signs of inequality.