DWP & Benefit Cap. You don’t not what you’re doing!

The average amount of housing benefit cut per week from social tenants …

humerus

When it comes to housing benefit policy the Tory right hand has no idea what the left hand is doing.  Put another way all council and housing association landlords would be better off deliberately under occupying their properties as that is what the Conservatives Housing Benefit policy incentivises!

Succinctly, the Benefit Cap IS the death of the social housing model from the 1948 Welfare State

In 11 weeks time starting from 7 November 2016 we see that 36% of all council and housing association properties are off limits to existing and new benefit tenants due to the Benefit Cap – more correctly the overall benefit cap.

The 3 bed and larger properties make up this 36% of all social housing and if they are under occupied the bedroom tax impacts with a £15.21 per week cut to housing benefit … yet if fully occupied the housing benefit will be cut by 5 times that with the Benefit Cap at an average of £76 per week.

The 3 bed social housing property is financially toxic.

The same Benefit Cap will also see many 2 bed properties become financially toxic on a social rent level in high rent areas of the South East as the couple with 2 children in Guildford will see a £35 or so weekly cut to their housing benefit.

The majority of social housing properties let on the affordable (sic) rent level are also off limits to the existing or future social tenant and figures for 2014/15 reveal over 100,000 social housing properties are let on the affordable (sic) rent basis and by now it will be many more.

The Benefit Cap even if you believe the DWP scan figures (that are incredulously low) we will see 58,000 social tenant households get an average weekly cut in housing benefit of £76 per week or circa £4,000 per year, which if they can’t make up from their other already below subsistence level benefit income they will be evicted and they and their 230,000 or so children will be made homeless.

You can more than double that number of children evicted and made homeless from the private rented sector too as the average weekly cut in housing benefit there (LHA) will be £108 per week and tenants there will not have the option as private landlords will evict en masse all benefit tenants and even if they are on exempt benefits too as the possibility that a tenant now in ESA support group will be placed in the work related activity group and thus become liable for the Benefit Cap’s swingeing cuts is a financial risk way too high for all private landlords.

Put simply although the DWP scan shows around 65,000 private tenants liable to be impacted we could easily see private landlords evicting double that number due to the perceived Benefit Cap financial risks and the benefit tenant simply becoming too risky altogether for all private landlords (apart from the PRS landlords who cram in 8 bedsits into what was once a 3 bed house!)

All of the above flow from the chronic underestimate of the DWP scan figure which I strongly maintain is at least 60% lower than the real figure yet ignore that here as the validity of the DWP figure deflects and we must instead concentrate 100% on the 23% reduction to the Benefit Cap and its impacts.

Tenants social and private cannot afford the Benefit Cap cuts and many will not be able to escape them and so a very high percentage will be evicted by all landlords and as these households will have children then local councils will be under a legal duty to find them temporary homeless accommodation in B&Bs or hotels.

Any council who believes their DWP scan figure and assumes that the 500 for example private tenant households liable figure will mean 500 section 21 notice evictions is mistaken as it will mean 1000 PRS evictions or perhaps more.  Private landlords will take 100% flight from the benefit tenant market and very quickly so and this will apply right across the UK and in the lowest rent areas too.

Any council who believes that housing association or council landlords will not evict post haste is also deluded.  For example the DWP scan figure for Leeds sees 520 council tenant households affected with an average 4 children per household and if they are a lone parent 4 child household they will get just £25 per week in housing benefit and if a two parent 4 child household they will get £0.50p per week in housing benefit and lose around £17 per week of other ‘welfare’ income on top.

The Leeds figures from the risibly low DWP scan increase the HB cut in Benefit Cap from £0.74 million per year to £5.6 million per year and with bedroom tax HB cut of over £5 million my best wishes to the DHP team in Leeds making their £1.9 million DHP budget stretch to an additional further £4.8 million demand on it in 11 weeks time – the same sentiment for all councils obviously … and of course that means a DHP for bedroom tax will become as rare as hen’s teeth so more evictions and homelessness there by consequence too!

A simple PEST analysis anyone?

Political – while the reducing Benefit Cap is a Tory policy it was also in Labour’s 2015 general election manifesto so clearly ALL politicians are wholly ignorant of the Benefit Cap impacts (quelle surprise!!) including that the woeful DWP figure will see the current number of homeless children in temporary homeless accommodation rise from 100,000 to 500,000 and within the space of at most six months!

Economic – e.g. One parent 4 child (1P4C) tenant household in Leeds

The 1P4C household from 7 November 2016 will receive just £25 per week in housing benefit which will be circa £60 per week short in a council rent, circa £75 per week short of a HA rent and circa £135 short for a 3 bed private tenant.

So when the 1P4C household is evicted and made homeless and the council mange to cram them into 2 rooms at a B&B and paying £90 per night and £630 per week for that unsuitable provision the council will only receive that £25 per week back.  In short that’s an additional £30,000 per family per year cost to the public purse as well as a massive transfer of cost from central to local government.

Yes you read that right reader, the Benefit Cap reducing to £20,000 per year will cost the public purse £30,000 per year MORE … oh and quintuple the number of homeless children as an absolute minimum from the current 100,000 living in temporary homeless accommodation to at least 500,000 children and no later than the end of January 2017.

Social – Do I need to say that a minimum 400,000 children will have their life chances well and truly f*cked and explain what that means in every aspect of their lives?

Technological – Get a job or no house!

Oh did I mention that the Benefit Cap is no longer a London only issue and that the current 44% of all affected now being in London will from November see London have just 17% of all Benefit Cap households?

The DWP scan figure is 6 times the number now affected though with the average amount cut increasing by 52% this means an effective 9 times …

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PS the risible DWP scan for Leeds says 1409 households affected which at an additional cost to the council of £30,000 per family per year if they are lucky to find temporary homeless accommodation so cheap and also lucky if no more than 730 PRS households are evicted because of the Benefit Cap is ….

 

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