The Benefit Cap policy creates systemic homelessness of 150,000 families per year that will contain 197,000 adults and 500,000 children.
The overall benefit cap will see half a million children each year made homeless and that is on top of and additional to the homeless increase that will happen from existing tenants at acute risk of eviction and homelessness from the £500 per month cuts to their maximum ‘benefit’ entitlement.
To put that into context we currently see Shelter’s 2016 campaign saying 120,000 children are homeless. Hence my 500,000 homeless children is 4 times that number each and every year and directly and wholly because of the Benefit Cap policy.
The Benefit Cap policy denies the ‘benefit household’ that basic right of any democracy of a stable permanent roof over their heads. Yet the pollsters tell us that over 70% of the public agree with the Benefit Cap policy and sees the ‘benefit household’ become a societal outcast subject to the same obloquy in terms of human rights terms because of the Benefit Cap as those stated by Lord Bingham.
What these Benefit Cap cuts mean is that around 65,000 existing social housing tenants will be at critical risk of eviction … yet also that around 150,000 prospective tenants will be denied social housing each year and go straight to the homeless section of their local council. Many more will be refused private rented accommodation on the same issue …. affordability!
The Benefit Cap means that a couple with three children outside of London can receive a maximum of £50 per week in housing benefit and as little as £21 per week if they receive ESA, the replacement for Incapacity Benefit.
Housing Associations and Councils accommodate 385,000 new tenants each year in England alone and with more in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and so a large number of these prospective social tenants each year will be refused a council of HA property because their maximum housing benefit gives a huge weekly rent shortfall.
So when the couple with three children seek out social housing the social landlord will refuse to house them as that family cannot afford the rent. As such that family goes straight to the councils homeless department and becomes another homeless family
Even the cheapest council housing in a low rent area of England will see a 3 bed rent exceed £80 per week yet the couple with 3 children receive just £50 or £21 per week towards that rent. The average 3 bed rent in the regions was £97 per week in 2015/16 and that is on the social rent model.
The couple with four children will get £0.50 per week – yes fifty pence – in housing benefit! The couple with four children like the couple with three qualify in housing needs terms for a 3 bed property yet they will not be allocated one.
Social landlords in England have 36% of their properties being the 3 bed or larger property so, statistically, this means that 139,000 new properties allocated each year by English council and HA landlords are the 3 bed or larger property. Yet those 139,000 new allocations each year will be denied to the benefit tenant household because of the affordability issue the Benefit Cap directly creates.
That means those families have NO CHOICE but to present and be accepted as homeless – that is the systemic homeless issue the Benefit Cap policy directly and wholly creates.
Add in the figures for social landlords in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and then add in the numbers of families refused accommodation for the same Benefit Cap affordability issue in the private rented sector …. and you see why my 150,000 new families per year projection is a chronically low estimate.
It will be more and likely far more.
The above explains the simple reality of what the Benefit Cap policy means and how it will impact and reveals the SYSTEMIC nature of the policy in directly creating homelessness and a four fold increase in child homelessness!!
Below the line is just one of countless other impacts – that the £6000 cut in the benefit cap level from £26,000 to £20,000 sees the overall cost rise to £50,000 per year!
Have a quick read and see if you have the same obloquy…
A council landlord does NOT have any duty to house a family. The councils homeless department and it social services department do have a legal duty yet ONLY when the family is legally homeless.
So when the Simpsons (Homer, Marj and their 3 kids) approach a council landlord that council housing department can and will say no and then send the Simpsons to the homeless department of the council. The homeless department will then ask the councils housing department to house, who will refuse as they can do due to affordability. The councils homeless department will then have to put up the Simpsons in temporary homeless accommodation – e.g. two rooms at a B&B hotel or Travelodge at £49 per room per night – for a cost of £686 per week of which your local council will get back just the £50 pw in housing benefit the Simpsons are entitled to.
Yes that does mean the cost is borne by your local council, a cost of £636 per week in the above example which is over £33,000 per year and directly created by the maximum £20,000 per year overall benefit cap! The Simpsons will still get the £334 per week in other ‘benefit’ which is £17,000+ per year meaning they cost the public purse £50,000 per year and all due to the benefit cap reducing from £26,000 to £20,000.
If the cap remained at £26,000 then the Simpson family above would cost the public purse £17,368 in other ‘benefit’ and £5,044 per year in housing benefit (£97 per week 3 bed rent) making just over £22,000 per year in total.
As the above demonstrates cutting the cap level by £6,000 per year results in a current £22,000 cost increasing to a public purse cost of £50,000 per year!
If you are a tenant affected, an activist or campaigner who would like to support those affected in your area, in fact anyone affected by or concerned with the Benefit Cap can contact me in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org.