Welfare Action Week is a national week of action starting on 10 October, organised by the National Housing Federation, the trade body for housing associations, to raise awareness of the harsh reality of the Government’s proposed welfare changes. Under the proposals, housing benefits claimants in the North West would be the hardest hit.
Hundreds of housing associations across the country will be participating in this week of action.
Under the Welfare Reform Bill, which is going through Parliament, the Government is proposing to cut benefit for social housing tenants deemed to have a ‘spare bedroom’ – even if they have lived in the property for decades.
Over 600 Progress Housing Group tenants will be affected by these proposed changes and would have their benefits reduced by more than £450,000 a year.
Under the government’s proposals, a tenant with one spare bedroom would have their benefits reduced by £572 a year, someone with two spare bedrooms a reduction of £1,040 a year and three spare bedrooms of £1,300.
It will hit people with disabilities hardest. Foster carers will lose out too, even if their ‘spare room’ is being used by fostered children.
Separately, the Government wants to scrap tenants’ right to have their housing benefit paid directly to their landlord. Removing the most convenient way for tenants to pay their rent is likely to lead to increased personal debt and arrears.
The Government is also proposing to introduce a cap on the overall amount of benefit that people can claim.
Families will be amongst the hardest hit as the cap takes no account of the huge variation in housing costs across the country.
As a result of the proposed changes, many tenants will have to choose between going into debt or moving away from work, family and support networks.
The policies are expected to be introduced in April 2013.
As a first step, Progress Housing Group has written to local MPs asking that they support this campaign and lobby against these measure in Parliament. Jacqui De-Rose, Chief Executive of Progress Housing Group has also written to the Welfare Reform Minister, Lord Freud, calling on him to drop these changes.
Jacqui De-Rose, Chief Executive of Progress Housing Group, said:
“At Progress Housing Group we are very worried that these measures could cause a lot of hardship for a lot of local people.
“The Government must reconsider these proposals immediately. They leave tenants to choose between a rock and a hard place: get into debt or get out of their home