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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Labour to slash housing benefit - don't they ever learn?

Gordon Brown's Labour Party are now proposing to reduce housing benefit by £15 a week for around 300,000 claimants.

It is easy when you are earning £65,000 a year to forget how hard it is to survive on benefits.

I know from personal experience the difficulties, and no, I don't earn anywhere near that kind of money, when I moved up to Edinburgh with my new job it was a new start for us, unfortunately my partner worked for 10 weeks then the recession hit and hit bloody hard and didn't work from 22nd November last year until 3 weeks ago - for the first six months he got, wait for it, £60.50 per week, that is it, no council tax benefit and no other help as I earn too much apparently despite the fact we were paying a mortgage down south and rent up here, two lots of council tax etc etc

Anyhow, we are lucky as at least I do work and have a good job. Compared to a lot of people we have a luxurious live so I am not complaining and nor can I.

Since 2008 (yes this was only introduced last year) new housing benefit claimants have been entitled to get up to £15 a week back if they can find accommodation at a lower rent than the level of housing allowance set by their local council.

It is those who only have that small amount to live on that would be affected, yet rent has gone up consistently every year whether it be council, housing associations or private rents so the Labour Government's new idea is to slash the help they give to those who need it most, although as the government will stress, this is only a proposal, it isn't definite - yet.

The proposal to end the measure, included in the Budget, is now under consultation. If approved it would come into force next April, just ahead of an expected general election.

Sarah Teather MP is to be thanked for drawing peoples attention to the proposal buried in the budget - well done Sarah, another reason why pounding the streets of Brent East was a worthwhile use of my time. You can read more about it here on the BBC website.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "The vast majority of housing benefit recipients do not benefit from this scheme and so do not get extra cash back on top of the rent paid". I wonder how much the spokesman earns each year?

1 comment:

Russ said...

It's good to see the Government's decision on this being scrutinised, but taking a pop at the spokesperson's earnings might miss the point he was making.

My job involves meeting with and advising Housing Benefit claimants on a daily basis, and in my experience very few people did take up the £15 a week offer to find alternative, private housing. This was generally because of a distrust of a difficult-to-understand scheme, rather than because alternative accommodation wasn't available.

Labour should rightly be questioned over cutting benefits at this time, but - once they'd decided to find savings in social security payments - I'm not surprised that this was the scheme that got hit.

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