Welfare changes in County Durham may leave people homeless

Benefit change ‘will put 4,500 more homes beyond families’

Feb 21, 2012

THE Government’s planned welfare reforms will place a further 4,500 County Durham homes beyond the reach of low-income families, a housing charity has claimed.
Cuts in payments of Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and caps on housing benefit could leave claimants facing potential homelessness, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has warned.

Plans to reduce LHA, which is paid to people renting properties from private landlords, were announced by Chancellor George Osborne as part of £1.8 billion of housing cuts in last June’s budget.
LHA rates will be set at 30 per cent of local rents, rather than the current 50 per cent, leaving recipients to make up the shortfall.
The CIH estimates that 800,000 homes across the country – including 4,500 in County Durham – will become too expensive for low-income families.
It also fears that demand will exceed supply in areas.
 “Welfare reforms will see for the first time more people chasing homes than the market currently provides,” said Grainia Long, interim chief executive of CIH.
“The only feasible option for many families who want to stay in their communities will be to borrow more or to spend less on essential items such as food.”
She warned that those forced to move will end up in “benefit ghettoes” resulting in “increased social disorder and a breakdown in community cohesion”.
The Government, which will also cap housing benefit levels, said it was introducing the changes to produce a “fairer” system where people on benefits no longer live in homes that are beyond the financial reach of those in work.

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