The latest benefit cap figures see 20,128 affected at a reduction of circa £56 per week and that will increase to a minimum of 158,422 families with an average weekly cut in their housing benefit of £76 in less than 5 weeks time.
This is my absolute minimum figure not my maximum one and these families will include 529,129 children who will be thrust into poverty and at acute risk of eviction and homelessness and all for the alleged sins of their parents … Many of whom are not workless as the government chooses to describe in very pejorative language, but either unable to work due to disability or not expected to work as they have pre-school age children, and the current benefit capped official data proves.
These are very big and shocking numbers yet bear in mind it is just 3.3% of all Housing Benefit (and UC’s housing payment) recipients in the UK who will be capped and have their housing benefit cut. Never has 3.3% caused so much devastation.
This 158,422 projection is significantly above the latest government figures of in August 2016 at 88,000 to 107,000 and above their 120,000 figure from May 2016 it is also within their upper range of 93,000 to 177,000 the DWP issued in February 2016.
I have studied this policy since it was first mooted 6 years ago and some call me an expert in this area yet nobody can be due to the inherent assumptions this extremely complex issue holds.
Some will call my final projection scaremongering but it is not. For those that do I say look at my past record of prediction on housing benefit issues compared with the DWP and you will find I am mostly right yet the DWP never is.
Here are my projections.
In England, Scotland and Wales 158,422 households affected of which 64,573 will be in the social rented sector (SRS) which is 40.76%; and 93,849 will be in the private rented sector or PRS which is 59.24%.
There are wide regional variations as to the SRS:PRS split though Scotland is the only region with more affected in social housing than in privately rented at 56%.
Inner London sees 58% affected being in social housing yet Outer London it is 33% and overall the split is 41% SRS to 59% PRS in Greater London and there are very wide interregional splits in all areas reflecting each regions and sub-regions HB claimants.
Yet the most notably issue is that London which now has 44% of all current benefit-capped households will only have 17% after the overall benefit cap level reduces by 11.5% there but by 23% in the GB regions outside the capital.
London goes from having almost 1 in every 2 capped households to having just 1 in 6 capped households so no longer can the overall benefit cap be seen as just a high rent area issue. It is a national issue with horrendous national implications.
Below are two charts which both use the same scale tellingly to show the current latest position which is May 2016 and the position in May 2017. The May 2017 projection removes the obfuscation of the proposed staggered roll out of the policy from 7 November and for 12 weeks and any seasonal factors.
North East is up from 590 to 8345 households a 14-fold increase while London increases from 8790 now to 26661 which is (just!) a 3-fold increase or tripling – and you can make such comparisons for all other regions.
The North West sees an increase from 1456 to 20,152 households and like the North East is also a 14-fold increase yet note well that the North West alone will have more benefit capped households than the whole of England, Scotland and Wales combined now have currently!
I could discuss the above with a further 20,000 words here if not more as to the numbers and especially the impacts these swingeing reductions will have, many of which are staggering such as putting an additional 529,169 children into poverty and most likely made homeless.
The statistical average I project across the country will be 3.34 children per household which is slightly lower than the DWP average of 3.47 from their scan figures and each household will contain 1.31 adults which is the same.
There are valid arguments that the numbers of evictions could be lower than the 158,422 households and also that it may be higher as landlords take flight from the ‘benefit tenant’ market.
Social landlords will see the ubiquitous 3 bed property (36% of all social housing) become financially toxic as if fully occupied the amount of HB their benefit tenants (77% of all social housing) have cut will be five ties more than the HB cut in bedroom tax for under occupying. When considering that impact on allocations and asking the obvious question of Where will the benefit tenant live also make sure to consider that the North West region has 39 councils yet only 3 council landlords.
How much added cost will all local councils face in temporary homeless costs is yet another obvious question. I suggest the overall benefit cap is a £3 billion plus per year transfer of cost to local government.
The total amount of Housing Benefit cut in a full year I project to be just over £622 million and for comparison purposes the latest bedroom tax amount of HB that is cut is £343 million per year. What impact will that have on DHP allocation and will it mean current bedroom taxed households who have relied upon DHP to date will no longer get a DHP? Yes is the simple answer and so does that mean that another consequences of the reducing benefit cap is much higher bedroom tax evictions? Yes again is the answer.
Is there a very valid argument that London in having 44% of those currently affected has (a) become accustomed to the policy and (b) given the London-centric bias of housing and housing benefit policy and (c) of the London-centric nature of all national issues such as homelessness, eviction and poverty that this policy and its impacts been chronically under reported? Yes, yes and yes!!
The noticeable absence of the likes of Shelter (and all other homeless lobbies) hardly saying a word about the prospect of today’s 100,000 children living in unsuitable temporary homeless provision could increase to 600,000 by Easter and all due to the benefit cap reduction!
As I say I could go on and on but if anyone was ever in any doubt that the benefit cap is by far the most damaging welfare reform (sic) policy of the lot then all doubt has to go.