According to a press release issued on the website of the National Housing Association on 26th January 2016 older people, disabled people and the most vulnerable could be left in a position of being unable to pay their rent due to planned changes for housing benefit, which were confirmed by the Chancellor in November 2015.
The changes could result in many schemes such as womenâ€™s refuges, specialist dementia accommodation and veteransâ€™ services being closed. The National Housing Federation, in conjunction with Age UK, Mencap and Womenâ€™s Aid have called upon the Government to confirm that the new benefit cap will only apply to people that do not need the extra support.
More than 50,000 households could be affected over the course of just one year, losing an average of Â£68.00 per week each.
Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Womenâ€™s Aid said
“Womenâ€™s Aid has been working alongside the Government to ensure the national network of specialist womenâ€™s domestic abuse refuges is on a financially sustainable footing, so that the women and children fleeing violence in the home always have somewhere safe to go. An estimated 12,000 women will stay in refuge every year, more often that not, with their children. Uncertainty about the future of housing benefit payments is already directly impacting on services, plans for the future and a risk to the future of refuge provision is a risk to women and childrenâ€™s lives. We are urging Government to make clear their intentions to exempt domestic violence refuges from these regulations as a matter of urgency.”
Phillip Coburn, Director with Burd Ward Solicitors comments
“The courts are already clogged up with possession claims and evictions involving Social Landlords and Social Tenants, many of which are due to previous Government reforms on housing benefit culminating in under occupancy charges (â€œthe bedroom taxâ€) being applied. Many social tenants, vulnerable or not, are unable to meet the shortfall. The new changes will only serve to increase the strain on the courts and the Legal Aid system which is currently in place to help with the funding of such hearings. It seems likely that the changes will result in less income for Social Landlords, more court proceedings being issued and more reliance upon the Legal Aid Agency for payment to assist with the court hearings. It would, in my opinion, appear to be self defeating.”