Coalition chops support for those affected by housing benefit cuts

Thu, 30/01/2014 - 17:14 -- nick

The government has announced a reduction in the support available for those affected by its housing benefit cuts.

This follows on from reductions in previous years and is likely to mean more hardship for unemployed people.

In the year 2013-14, the coalition made £180 million available to councils through the Discretionary Housing Fund, which replaced the far bigger Social Fund.

But the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has today confirmed that the Fund will shrink to £165 million for next year, leaving thousands who have already seen their incomes reduced through the bedroom tax and benefit cap in further strife.

The DWP continued its spinning of all news it issues as it says the Fund "builds on" last years larger amount.

It is designed to provide short-term help to those in need, and only "builds on" the 2013-14 money in the sense that a claimants JSA "builds on" the JSA they got last year.

Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey said:

"This funding will ensure we can support vulnerable claimants and help them make the transition.

"Capping benefits is returning fairness to the welfare system and reform of the spare room subsidy is absolutely necessary to make a better use of our social housing when over 300,000 are living in overcrowded homes in Britain and around 1.7 million are on social housing waiting lists in England alone.

"We are ensuring all working age tenants are treated equally – as claimants receiving housing benefit in private sector already receive support for the number of bedrooms they need and not for spare rooms."

The benefit cap has been widely criticised for pushing people into poverty while wilfully misunderstanding that the only non-capped payment is housing benefit, which goes straight to landlords.

The bedroom tax has also been condemned because most tenants do not have a choice in their housing due to a lack of smaller properties in most areas meaning they are trapped in larger homes.

Labour has called for a programme of house building to ensure rents do not race away from the benefit cap and that those on low incomes can afford to live.

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