In Liverpool, 840 families risk losing their homes because of benefits cuts

The government is cutting £37,200 a week from housing benefit for our city’s most vulnerable residents. It’s a policy that doesn’t add up

Having a place you can call home is fundamental to a civilised society. But in Liverpool, 840 households could now lose the roof over their heads through no fault of their own.

They will all be affected by the new, lower benefit cap of £20,000 being introduced from 7 November. This follows a tsunami of regressive changes to the benefits system since 2010, including the bedroom tax, the freezing of benefit rates and cuts to equivalent working tax credits for those on universal credit. Contrary to popular belief, many households being hit already have someone in work.

Our analysis shows the new benefits cap amounts to a total weekly cut of £37,200 to housing benefit payments in the city. It means an average reduction in rent contributions of £44 a household a week.

We believe this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and will tip some families over the edge – including 2,800 children.

We can support our residents for a short time through discretionary housing payments, though most of that is already being used up by applications from people hit by the bedroom tax.

We expect arrears will mount up leading to evictions. We will then need to rehouse the families in temporary accommodation at a cost to the council of about £400 a week – nine times more than the cut to their benefit.

This could mean uprooting families already under pressure, and moving them to a different part of the city away from much-needed support networks, their schools and their wider families.

Aside from the devastating social consequences and stress, in financial terms all this policy is doing is shifting the cost from the government over to the council, housing associations and our other local partners. This at the same time as we’re facing huge cuts to our budgets: £90m alone in the case of Liverpool city council over the next three years.

read more of this article by Liverpool Councillor Jane Corbett here: https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2016/oct/03/liverpool-840-families-risk-losing-homes-benefits-cuts

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