Latest statistics show majority of Benefit Cap households unable to work

Last week DWP published the latest benefit cap statistics showing the number of households capped up to May 2015.

A total of 62,600 households have now been capped at some point during the policies duration, with 45 per cent of those affected in London and 91 per cent having dependent children.

The statistics also show that there were a 22,500 households capped in May, a small 3 per cent drop on the 23,100 capped in February. But what is most interesting about these statistics is that for the first time they provide a full breakdown of capped households by benefit type. Shockingly this reveals that 85% of those households capped in May 2015, or 19,125 claimants, were in receipt of a benefit which meant they aren’t currently expected to work.

21 per cent of capped households were in receipt of ESA, meaning they have been deemed too sick or disabled to work, 49 per cent were on income support, meaning they were most likely to be a single parent with a child under that age of five and therefore unable to work, and 6 per cent were receiving carers allowance. Only 15 per cent were claiming Jobseekers Allowance and therefore currently looking for and able to work.

What this means is that, although Ministers claim the main aim of the benefit cap is to incentivise claimants to work, only a small minority of those affected are actually in a position to move into work. What then is the cap meant to achieve for the majority of households unable to work?

Because this the first time such statistics have been published it makes it difficult for us to see how this breakdown has changed over time, however there are some figures that can help give us an idea. DWP’s initial Impact Assessment in January 2012 estimated that 40 per cent of those affected would be in receipt of JSA. However, this figure was revised down to 34 per cent in July 2012, and the estimated proportion of those affected given in last years independent review is around 25 per cent.

Read more about this here: http://z2k.org/2015/08/latest-statistics-show-majority-of-benefit-cap-households-unable-to-work/

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Housing crisis forces disabled couple and 4-year-old daughter into hotel at motorway services

A disabled couple and their four year-old daughter are stranded in a motorway service station hotel because a council cannot find another home for them.

Janet Paddison, 23, and her partner and young girl were made homeless when their landlord decided to sell their rented property.

They looked for homes in the private sector but said no one was prepared to accept her assistance dog or housing benefit supplements………………………..

Rhys and Janet are both unable to drive due to their disabilities, leaving them stranded on the motorway in Bedfordshire…………………

They say they have been left unable to wash their clothes and Janet’s assistance dog has had to be put in kennels.

Janet said: “I’ve had a really bad experience with the council. It feels like some of my human rights have been violated.

“We don’t know what we can do. No one seems to care.”

Breakfast is provided for the family at the hotel – where rooms cost £65 a night – but the couple say the food prices are extortionate and they have no cooking facilities.

Janet says she has not been told how long they will be at the services.

If they have not found a new home locally by September her daughter will not be able to take up her new place at primary school.

Luton Borough Council said their “severe housing shortage” is down to landlords demanding rents higher than can be covered by Housing Benefits and competition from London authorities.

read the rest of this story here: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/housing-crisis-forces-disabled-couple-6180277

Family of nine evicted after being hit by benefits cap left relying on food banks to survive

While being forced out of their home, their seven-year-old daughter asked then: “Where will we live?”

A family of nine say the benefits cap has seen them evicted from their home and reliant on weekly food bank visits to survive.

Sonny and Heidi Birdi, 40 and 37, whose seven kids are aged between two and 11, used to enjoy a £60,000 household income. They spent thousands on designer shopping trips and treated their family to holidays abroad and the latest toys. But their lives were turned upside down two years ago when Sonny was left unable to work because of a severe kidney problem.

They were evicted from their home six weeks ago and are now living in a three-bed temporary home provided by the council.

Sonny and Heidi got in touch with the Mirror after reading about the plight of the Parker family last month. Sonny said: “When we were being evicted my seven-year-old daughter asked me: “where’s our new house going to be, where will we live?” I had no answer for her. I had a very good job and whatever the kids wanted they got, Xboxes, iPads they had it all. We used to go on holiday to France, visit Paris and Disneyland. I’m the only driver but we had three cars and I used to give Heidi £2-3000 and tell her ‘go on a shopping spree, enjoy yourself’. Money was never a problem for us.

“But now instead of a three-piece suit I’m in a pair of jeans and a one pound T-shirt. I can’t afford razors from my shaver and for lunch I’m looking through reduced sandwiches in Tesco. Losing everything is hard when your family are looking up to you to bring in money.”

Heidi added: “It really riles me when people say ‘you shouldn’t have that many children if you can’t afford them’. When we had our kids we were earning around £60,000 a year, were both working and didn’t rely on benefits. We were surviving fine but because of the Benefits Cap we are now unable to pay the rent. On £500 a week it’s impossible to feed a family the size of mine and pay all the bills.”

London Underground worker Sonny and hairdresser Heidi both paid taxes and National Insurance during their 15 year careers. But in 2012 Sonny suffered agonising kidney stones and had to stop working to undergo several operations. In the summer of 2013 he had a heart attack and his ill health forced him to resign from his lucrative job last Spring.

Because Heidi was pregnant the family, of Whittlesey, Cambs, was left with no breadwinner. They were unable to afford the £795 monthly rent on their home.

The coalition has capped benefits at £26,000 a year – leaving large families struggling to survive.

Heidi said: “We have gone from being quite comfortable to the point where we have to go to food banks every week. To be honest the first time we went it was pretty degrading, but we haven’t got a choice. I used to go out and buy Gucci handbags and spent thousands on designer sunglasses. It’s been a massive change in lifestyle – both embarrassing and humbling.

“The kids have taken it very hard. It’s the children that suffer even though everything we have is spent on them.”

The Birdis and their kids Arun, 11, Isher, nine, Kabir, eight, Priya, seven, Aanya, five, Reuben, three, Maya, two, were evicted on April 22. The family now live in a temporary three-bedroom home in March, Cambs. They survive on £377 a week in child tax credit, £411 a month child benefit and have just started receiving £109 housing benefit a week.

Because they could be moved into another home at short notice Sonny has had difficulty finding work.

 

“Me and Heidi have worked all our lives and paid taxes and national insurance and we are not getting enough support.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/family-nine-evicted-after-being-5849920?ICID

Iain Duncan Smith hails success of benefit cap as evictions hit record levels

Iain Duncan Smith has hailed the success of the benefit cap – on the same day that the Ministry of Justice reported a record number evictions among renting households.

The Work and Pensions Secretary said the cap provided “a clear incentive to people to get into work”, as figures showed thousands of capped households were now claiming working tax credits instead.

But Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said the government’s welfare cuts combined with “sky-high housing costs” had forced thousands of people out of their homes.

According to the latest figures from the Department of Work and Pensions, 23,100 households had their housing benefit capped during February with over 60% being single parent families.

Of the overall total, 83% were capped by £100 or less a week; 59% had between one and four children, and 63% were a single parent with child dependants.

The figures also show that of the top 20 local authorities with the highest number of households affected by the benefit cap, only one (Birmingham) was outside London.

The benefit cap data was published on the same day as Ministry of Justice figures showed that 11,307 renting households in England and Wales were evicted from their homes in the first three months of 2015 – an 8% rise on the same period in 2014 and the highest number recorded in a single quarter since 2009.

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Today’s figures are a glaring reminder that sky high housing costs and welfare cuts are leaving thousands of people battling to keep a roof over their heads.

 

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.24dash.com/news/housing/2015-05-15-Iain-Duncan-Smith-hails-success-of-benefit-cap-as-evictions-hit-record-levels

Tenant evictions reach six-year high amid rising rents and benefit cuts

Bailiffs in England and Wales evicted more than 11,000 families in the first three months of 2015, 51% higher than in same period five years ago

The number of tenants evicted from their homes is at a six-year high, according to new figures, as rising rents and cuts to benefits make tenancies increasingly unaffordable.

County court bailiffs in England and Wales evicted more than 11,000 families in the first three months of 2015, an increase of 8% on the same period last year and 51% higher than five years ago.

The increase in the number of tenants losing their homes means 2015 is on course to break last year’s record levels. Nearly 42,000 families were evicted from rental accommodation in 2014, the highest number since records began in 2000.

Rental prices have soared in many UK cities but wages failing to keep pace with rising costs and caps to benefits have left many poorer tenants unable to make payments.

Separate figures also published on Thursday showed almost 59,000 households have had their benefits capped in the past two years. Nearly half of those families were in London, where the the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home is £2,216.

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/may/14/tenant-evictions-reach-six-year-high-rising-rents-benefit-cuts?

Parliament knows about the effects of the benefit cap, but the Conservatives plan to make them worse..

The Impact of the Benefit Cap.

The Welfare Reform Act 2012 provided for a cap on total household benefits. The cap limits the total benefit a household can receive to £500 per week for a family and £350 per week for a single person with no children. The difference between a claimant’s total benefit and the Cap level is subtracted from Housing Benefit, or from support for housing costs under Universal Credit. The Cap was initially piloted in four London boroughs from April 2013 and was then implemented in all local authority areas in Great Britain by spring 2014.

The Parliamentary work and Pensions committee reported on the effects of the benefit cap last year. I copy some of their evidence below.

The current conservative government does not plan to act on any of this. Instead the plan is, if re-elected, to further reduce the total amount people can receive in benefits, regardless of the widespread and serious problems this is causing to vulnerable people and families.

 

The impact of the Benefit Cap on affected tenants

96. As of January 2014, 38,600 households had been affected by the Cap. Those most likely to be capped were families with several children, and those who live in high rent areas or expensive accommodation (such as temporary accommodation). Almost half of all capped households, 47%, were in London. Of households subject to the Cap in January 2014: 60% contained between one and four children and 36% contained five or more children. 59% were single-parent households with children.[99]

97. Witnesses expressed concerns regarding the large proportion of income that affected households were losing. The average loss differed between different areas. In Newcastle, the average loss among the 56 affected households was £48pw, with six households losing in excess of £100pw (reducing their Housing Benefit to less than 50p weekly). Z2K, a London-based charity, found that tenants were losing between £5 and £500pw, with an average loss of £91pw. According to the DWP, 22% of all capped households are losing more than £100 per week as of January 2014.[100]

98. The Chartered Institute of Housing, and Haringey Council, were concerned that reductions in income arising from the Cap could lead to poverty for affected claimants. They were particularly concerned about the effect the Cap could have on levels of child poverty.[101] The Children’s Society provided calculations, illustrating the way in which the Cap might affect the poverty level of families in private rented housing under Universal Credit:

Table 3: Disposable income after cap applied for out of work couple with average private rental sector rent for relevant property sizes[102]

Average PRS rental prices Disposable income after cap applied Poverty line (after housing costs deducted)
1 child £146 £196 £272
2 children £175 £261 £367
3 children £175 £325 £413
4 children £236 £264 £508
5 children £236 £264 £553
6 children £236 £264 £649

The Cap and relocation of affected tenants

99. Witnesses told us that some tenants affected by the Benefit Cap were being made homeless as a result of accruing unmanageable levels of arrears. Yvette Burgess of the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland said that placing homeless people in the private sector had become more difficult and expensive for local authorities because the Benefit Cap had reduced the range of affordable properties. The London Borough of Brent said that it was having to look “further afield” for affordable accommodation. However, moving people out of London could cause increases in rents in other areas: according to Z2K, private sector rents were starting to go up in areas such as Enfield where inner-London based local authorities were placing people.[103]

100. There is evidence that some private sector landlords have specifically been evicting or ending tenancies of people on Housing Benefit because of fears they might be affected by the Cap. The London Borough of Brent reported that evictions of private sector tenants due to the Benefit Cap were causing an increase in homelessness. Joanna Kennedy of Z2K said that currently around 18% of private sector landlords were renting to tenants on Housing Benefit, while two years ago the proportion was closer to a third. She cited a survey which found that “57% of landlords actively said that they would not take Housing Benefit tenants”.[104]

The parliamentary committee report goes on to itemise the effect of the cap on disabled people and carers, on its especial effect on people forced to live in expensive temporary accommodation as a result of homelessness, and to dispute the number of people the government claims has gone into work as a result of the cap.

Access this report through the House of Commons Website here http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmworpen/720/72007.htm

Welfare cuts ‘leave councils with huge bill to put families in hotels’

Thousands of London families are being shunted between hotels as councils struggle with a wave of homelessness sparked by Government cuts.

 

 

Town halls are spending vastly more on emergency accommodation to keep parents and children off the streets than since the Coalition came to power, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Separate Government statistics show that 44,370 London families are homeless — almost 6,500 more than 2010 — and councils are struggling to maintain their legal duty to provide shelter. Charities say homelessness is increasing because housing benefit caps mean families cannot cover rising rents charged by private landlords. They are evicted or have to leave their homes, and councils have to spend more on putting them up in hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodation, sometimes for long stays
. The FoI figures show that between 2010/11 and 2013/14, Westminster council almost doubled expenditure on temporary accommodation, to £40.25 million, and the number of homeless households rose by almost 500 to 2,366. Charity Z2K said among those evicted was a cleaner, his disabled wife and their children, who had to leave their Queen’s Park flat after their housing benefit was cut. They were put in a B&B. Westminster also spent £475 a night on a two-bedroom suite for another family.
Among other boroughs:Lambeth paid just over £130,000 for eight families to live in hotels in 2010. Last year it paid more than £7.8 million for 355 homeless families.
Hillingdon said that in a “buoyant” rental market, its spending on hotels and B&Bs rose from just over £415,000 in 2010 to nearly £1.7 million.
Spending by Greenwich on emergency overnight accommodation almost tripled from £550,764 in 2010 to £1,495,596 last year.
Newham slashed expenditure on hotels from nearly £1.6 million in 2010 to just over £640,000 this year, despite an increase in homeless households.Last month, a group of single mothers forced out of the Focus E15 hostel in Newham occupied homes on the condemned Carpenters Estate in Stratford. The group, led by Jasmine Stone, agreed yesterday to leave the flats but pledged to continue fighting for affordable housing.Joanna Kennedy, of Z2K, said: “These figures reveal how counterproductive the housing benefit cap has been.” Communities Minister Kris Hopkins said: “The law is clear that the accommodation should be used only in an emergency, and then for no longer than six weeks.”
A London Councils spokesman said: “Boroughs are digging into very stretched resources to deal with the sharp-end of the escalating housing crisis, which, alongside government welfare changes, is creating a double whammy for many Londoners.“Boroughs are working flat out to find suitable accommodation for people and reduce the numbers in temporary accommodation, but in the face of the sheer scale of the housing shortage, need real support from government to manage this.”
\from the \evening Standard http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/welfare-cuts-leave-councils-with-huge-bill-to-put-families-in-hotels-9772401.html