Housing benefit cuts – where Gloucester will feel the pain

There has been a lot of talk about the massive impact of housing benefit changes in London where rents are high and property expensive. But what about Gloucester where it is possible to rent a 4 bedroom house for less than the proposed cap of £400 per week?

That is where this idea of the 30% quartile will bite – taking most private rented properties out of the reach of anyone on   housing benefit.  In Gloucester a quarter of those people are working, trying to do the right thing.   Overall more people who have a job claim housing benefit than those on jobseekers allowance.    But a lack of well paid, full time work means   that they need help to have a decent home. Many may have been affected by cuts in working hours as an alternative to job losses, or mothers taking part time work so they can look after young children, or carers.

Of the rest some are pensioners, some are disabled, many will be recently unemployed and just need tiding over until     they get another job. They may have moved to increase their chances of work (something the coalition is keen on) and   will find themselves forced to live on pennies or move.

Before the election Sarah Teather, then Lib Dem spokesperson on housing berated Labour for failing to provide enough decent social housing and said:

“The Conservatives’ supposed solution to the housing crisis is to relax minimum space standards so that vulnerable families can be shoved into any old sub-standard box going spare.  This policy not only exploits those families waiting for a home, but is blindly ignorant of the scale of the housing crisis facing us.”

Yet she now sits in a Coalition Government that is introducing policies that will make things worse. It is possible that London Councils will force people out of their areas and into areas with lower rents – it is possible that Gloucester, already short of affordable housing and even shorter under the new rules will be faced with an influx of people competing for homes and work. This will put rents up and keep wages low.

Further down the line we will also see long term unemployed, seen by the Coalition as the villans of the piece rather than their friends the bankers, having their benefits reduced by 10% even if they are in cheap accomodation. Young people will not be able to afford a rented room because the single room allowance will come in at 35 (middle aged) leaving older people to support their children well into adulthood and not freeing up homes for young families.

Overcrowding, slum dwelling and Rackmanism are all terms that we thought were consigned to history but these are the choices that the Coalition are forcing on decent people who deserve decent home.

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