Last night I met up with Beti, a former tenant of the Loughborough Park Estate in Brixton, which was demolished by the Guinness Partnership last year, resulting in the loss of 180 homes for social rent. Having been evicted from her secure tenancy, Beti lost her business, and is now claiming housing benefit to pay the rent in her new place, where she lives with her two boys. Strange as it might seem, though, she was one of the lucky ones. Having been one of the key figures in the campaign of resistance to the demolition, and having fought Guinness housing association to the last, she was rehoused in Lambeth, unlike many of her fellow secure tenants, who were moved to the outer boroughs of London. Beti’s new tenancy, however, is for ‘affordable rent’, meaning her rent has been raised from £109 per week to £265 per week for a…
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Keiley Messham, from Rhewl, has had her support cut from £124 a week to just £34 since benefit cap brought in
A single mum of four says she and her children are facing homelessness after her housing benefit was slashed by 75% this month.
Keiley Messham, 27, from Rhewl, received a letter from HMRC informing her that her housing benefit has been cut from £124 a week to £34, after the government brought in new benefit caps which affect people receiving housing benefit or Universal Credits.
Keiley says she had no idea her housing benefit was going to be reduced, and says she and her children will be forced to move from their privately rented home where they have happily lived for the past five years.
RENT arrears among council tenants rose by 20 per cent over the summer, with council officials linking one-third of the rise directly to the introduction of Universal Credit (UC).
East Lothian began a trial of the new digital UC system at the start of this financial year, which rolls a number of benefit payments into one, including housing benefit, giving it to the tenant, instead of directly to the council.
Council officials predicted it would be harder to collect rent under the new pilot system, which was described as an “experiment in cruelty” by SNP councillor Fraser McAllister.
At a meeting of the council’s policy and performance review committee, a report revealed that council rent arrears in the first three months of the year had been £1,210,872 but rose over the second quarter of the financial year to £1,452,515 – an increase of £241,643.
And commenting on the report, officials said: “The introduction of UC was predicted to have a significant impact on rent collection. Of the 590-plus council house tenants claiming UC, we now have an additional £75k rent to collect direct from these tenants per fortnight.
“Of this year’s increase, £79,140 relates directly to debt associated with UC.”
Following the meeting, Councillor Peter MacKenzie, who sits on the committee, said he was concerned to hear of tenants falling into debt and called for more rent officers to be brought in to help.
Research from the Manchester Institute of Education shows the dangerous conswquences for children in the households affected by the Bedroom Tax.
……..We conducted a small scale exploratory project, interviewing staff at 20 schools, housing associations and community organisations, and 14 parents impacted by the ‘bedroom tax’. In the interviews we asked about what people thought the impacts of the policy on children and their education were, if any.
Our analysis indicates that children are perceived to be impacted by the ‘bedroom tax’ in a number of ways. Some of these impacts relate to basic needs. For example having less food in the house and the heating being on less often.
One mum told us “I mean a loaf of bread isn’t going to keep me dry or keep me warm, or keep them warm or keep them dry. So you’ve got to pick that and that’s the hard bit”.
Parents we talked to also told us about the difficulties of children of significantly different ages (e.g. 6 and 15) sharing one bedroom, and the problems this raised for getting homework done. They also reported an increase in their own mental health problems, which they suggested impacted negatively on their children. Children were reported to worry about the possibility of moving.
Beyond the impacts which were seen within the house, participants also reflected on the impact of the policy on local communities and the feelings of particular groups of society being persecuted.
Representatives from schools also told us that hungry children were struggling to settle with their work, which may potentially means impacts for children beyond those in households directly impacted by the policy.
The BBC local news covered a story about “John” (not his real name) from Wirral in Merseyside who has had a Benefit Cap letter from the DWP The above is the letter or a screenshot of it… Source: Benefit Cap – a real example of Arbeit macht frei
Tens of thousands more UK households will see their benefits capped on Monday despite little proof it grows employment
Life had already been a struggle for months when the letter arrived from the Department for Work and Pensions last week telling Alana and Mark they would be benefit capped. From Monday, it said, the amount they would receive in housing benefit support – which is already £260 a month less than their actual rent – would be cut by £50 a week.
It was a none-too-subtle signal for Alana that life was about to get several degrees harder. “Saving an extra £200 a month is going to be impossible. We can’t cover the outgoings as it is. No amount of budgeting can save that sort of money. There’s only so much you can save on buying basic label baked beans.”
Both Alana and Mark, the parents of two small children, have lost good jobs through redundancy in the past year. They have scraped by since on her maternity allowance, borrowed cash from family and friends, and sold furniture. The cap in effect now provides them with stark alternatives: either one of them gets work (thus exempting them from the cap), or they fall rapidly into rent arrears and eviction.
Alana and Mark are not alone in being handed such a brutal choice. Estimates vary, but between 88,000 and 116,000 struggling UK households have received similar benefit cap letters from the DWP in recent weeks. On average they will lose £60 a week, though in some cases it could be as high as £150 a week. For many there will be no choice: they cannot work or are unable to find it, and as a result face hunger, impoverishment and homelessness.