Tag Archives: housing benefit

Lib Dems: Universal Credit could lead to up to 1.3 million evictions

New data released yesterday by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reveals that only 6% of Universal Credit claimants in the private rented sector have their rent paid directly to their landlords, compared to 35% in the socially rented sector .

This is despite calls by Liberal Democrat DWP spokesperson Stephen Lloyd to make payments to landlords default. Lloyd has argued that maintaining the status quo will lead to many of the 1.3 million benefit claimants in the private rented sector being evicted, and potentially made homeless.

According to the Residential Landlords Association, 73% of landlords still lack confidence in renting to tenants on Universal Credit due to uncertainty that they will be able to recover rent arrears, while 38% have already experienced UC tenants going into arrears.

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Welfare reform: enough of the stick, time for the carrot

This coalition has bravely attempted to tackle welfare reform. It’s been controversial, unpopular, but essential – the fact that unemployment has remained surprisingly low throughout this parliament is partly due to the welfare and labour market reforms this government has introduced.

However, there have been far too many losers in the last round of austerity. With the next parliament approaching we must change tact on welfare reform. As Liberal Democrats we believe that politics doesn’t have to be a zero sum game, where one group benefits at the expense of others. That’s why with any future reforms, like a surgeon we …

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Opinion: Tackling Housing Benefit reform

Matilda HouseThe Liberal Democrat policy paper on housing notes that the primary driver of growing housing benefit and Local Housing Allowance bills has been the shortage of housing, leading to higher rents, and increasing number of people unable either to buy or to access social housing. The paper focused on the most pressing issues:

  • Building more homes – providing environmentally sustainable homes where people need them, creating jobs and kick starting the economy.
  • Giving tenants more power and security – making social landlords more accountable and improving standards and security in the rapidly

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Danny Alexander earns a reprieve after strong performance on Andrew Marr

Danny Alexander went on the Andrew Marr Show this morning to talk about the Autumn Statement and the Liberal Democrats’ contribution to the economic recovery.  If I had to pull him up on anything, it’s not getting in any mention of shared parental leave. No Liberal Democrat interview should be complete without it. It ticks all the stronger economy, fairer society, enabling people to get on in life boxes and is one of the best practical demonstrations of  Liberal Democrat values in action that we’ve delivered in government.

He said that the proposed MPs’ pay rise would be wholly inappropriate when there’s pay restraint in other areas of the public sector.

In terms of differentiation from the Tories, he said that Liberal Democrats wanted more taxes on the wealthy, opposed what he called the tax penalty for unmarried people and opposed the removal of housing benefit from young people, which we had stopped in this Parliament.

He also confirmed that free school meals for younger children was a permanent commitment and reports that it was unfunded after 2015 were not true. He said the money was there but the work had not yet been done to allocate them to individual departments.

I’ve done a quick Storify which covers the main points of the interview.

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Tim Farron “set to vote against the “Bedroom Tax” while Swales, Mulholland, R Williams and Sanders table motion against it

From the Guardian‘s live politics blog (3:15)

Tim Farron, the Lib Dem president, is set to vote against the government on the bedroom tax tonight, I’m told. A friend of Farron’s tells me: “Party conference in Glasgow expressed its will very strongly against the bedroom tax and so Tim is listening to party members and will probably be voting against the government tonight. Tim is the voice of the party members, they have expressed their view and Tim wants to make sure that their voice is heard.”

Here’s the motion on the bedroom tax that the Lib Dems passed at their party

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Clegg: Yes to intensive support for unemployed young people; no to automatic benefit withdrawal

On his weekly LBC phone-in earlier today, Nick Clegg took a call (from Lib Dem activist Linda Jack; see comments) on the proposals mooted at the Conservative Party Conference to remove the automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit from those aged under 25 and require them to be in either work, education or training.

The Guardian’s Patrick Wintour has written up Clegg’s response (which has been slightly unfairly characterised, or at least oversimplified, in the headline):

Clegg said he supported the idea that some claimants who had been on the work programme for two years should work for their dole, the proposal

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Lord German writes… Monitoring the removal of the spare room subsidy

Like many people reading the front page of the Guardian this morning, I was worried by the headline on the pronouncements by the UN special rapporteur on the removal of the spare room subsidy. But it is important to look behind the headline to see that these comments were based on a very brief visit from this adviser, who did not have the time for a detailed discussion with the Department for Work and Pensions to understand the policy. If she had done she would have been able to understand that this policy brings the rules for the social …

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Lib Dems secure £35 million extra funds to help those affected by Bedroom Tax

The arguments over the so-called Bedroom Tax have been rehearsed on this site on many occasions and it’s been in the news today, with the judgement that it does not discriminate against disabled people.

The Department of Work and Pensions has separately announced extra money to help those worst affected. This will be given to Councils to give to those most in need. I understand that ministers did consider further exemptions but felt that it was fairer to allow councils to make the decisions because they were dealing directly with the tenants concerned and knew more about their circumstances.

The extra …

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The Tories’ 35% strategy shows they know they cannot win outright in 2015

George Osborne with Red Box, Budget 2012“The 35% Strategy”. The phrase was initially coined by Dan Hodges to decry the Labour leader’s soft-left leadership:

Forget the One Nation strategy, Ed Miliband is pursuing what is known within his inner circle as the 35 Per Cent Strategy. Come 2015, he thinks he can stagger over the line with 35 per cent of the vote.

Less commented on is that the Tories have also been adopting their own 35% strategy under the tutelage of strategist Lynton Crosby. Today’s news that George Osborne has ruled …

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Well done, Ed Balls. He’s opened up space for a proper welfare debate. Lib Dems now need to claim that space.

Ed Balls has done us all a favour. His announcement last week that if he were Chancellor he would put a stop to winter fuel allowances for well-off pensioners means Labour has joined the Lib Dems in saying we need to focus the welfare budget where it’s needed most, not keep on re-distributing from the worse off to the better off in the name of universalism. It’s why I chose him as my 38th Liberal Hero.

And yesterday he was at it again, highlighting quite how much of the welfare budget the state pension represents — some £74 …

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Independent View: Housing Benefit reform needs liberal principle of localism

The Prime Minister’s recent suggestion that young people under the age of 25 might be barred from receiving Housing Benefit has re-ignited the debate about welfare reform. Talk of a further ‘benefits crackdown’ duly generated the positive headlines that Downing Street strategists were after, while opponents howled in apocalyptic objection to this latest attempt to control the benefits bill. Pretty soon, the political debate moved on, everyone having fulfilled their roles to perfection. Evil Tory bogeymen, tabloid headline writers, charity campaigners all did exactly what we would have expected them to do. Maybe the specific proposal will remerge in future …

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LibLink: Tim Leunig – David Cameron should know better than this Housing Benefit gimmick

I wrote the other day that I wanted to see our party in general and Nick Clegg in particular come out and roundly condemn David Cameron’s ridiculous plan to stop under 25s from claiming Housing Benefit. Centre Forum director Tim Leunig did just that in an article for the Guardian on Monday.

His calm and forensic evisceration of Cameron’s argument put me in mind of the way Nick Clegg took apart the Tory Marriage Tax Break plan ahead of the 2010 election. This, of course, has been kicked into the long grass because of the Liberal Democrats. I’m also reminded of …

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Nick Clegg needs to condemn Cameron’s welfare plans in the strongest language imaginable

Many Liberal Democrats will have been choking on their Sunday Corn Flakes yesterday as they read, with horror, David Cameron’s plans to slash benefits even further than this year’s Welfare Reform Bill. If he had his way, there would be no Housing Benefit payable to anyone under 25. The critical part of the reports is, however, this sentence:

Downing Street said they were Conservative plans for after the next general election.

That’s all right then. This rubbish isn’t going to happen on our watch.

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LibLink: Tim Leunig – Housing benefit cap: can you live on 62p a day?

On Comment is Free, Tim Leunig reveals some alarming impacts of the government’s housing benefit cuts:

Imagine two sets of people, both renting from private landlords. One is an Islington couple who have never worked. The other is an Oldham family with four children, where the working parent has just lost his or her job. The Islington couple currently receive £250 a week in housing benefit, while the Oldham family gets only £150.

Times are tough, and the government wants to save money. Which family should have its housing benefit cut? George Osborne has chosen the Oldham family. He is cutting

Posted in LibLink | 26 Comments

Nick Clegg unites with Lords in battle to alter benefit cuts

So reports tomorrow’s Observer:

David Cameron has been lobbied by the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, on the need to rewrite the government’s flagship benefit reform to help children suffering as a result.

Clegg proposed a series of changes to the £500-a-week cap, including exempting current claimants, in an attempt to ameliorate some of the worst consequences of the change, which critics claim will make 40,000 families homeless by making their current homes unaffordable.

It is understood Clegg made his appeal during a meeting attended by the chancellor, George Osborne, and Danny Alexander, chief secretary of the Treasury. Cameron asked the Liberal Democrats

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14 Liberal Democrat rebels help defeat housing benefit cuts in the House of Lords

Fourteen Liberal Democrat peers, including the former party Chief Whip Archy Kirkwood and the former interim Chief Executive Ben Stoneham, joined a successful rebellion in the House of Lords today. The vote, on part of the Welfare Reform Bill, was over the proposal to cut housing benefit payments from people who have spare bedrooms in their property.

The peers voted to restrict these cuts to people who have two or more spare bedrooms, excluding the controversial category of people with one spare bedroom – which, under the rules as proposed, might in fact not have been that spare. Concerns had also …

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Opinion: Under Occupation – The Catch 22 of the Welfare Reform Bill

Most of the measures in the Welfare Reform Bill are extremely sensible. Designed to streamline a byzantine system where fraud was far too easy and anomalies like benefit recipients living in million pound mansions too common (though not as common as the Daily Mail would have you believe!).

During the passage of the Bill, the Liberal Democrats have managed to curb some of the worst excesses of our coalition partners. For example, we got rid of the idea that people on Job Seekers Allowance for more than a year would lose 10% of their housing benefit. It is measures like this …

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What Lib Dem members think about the Coalition’s spending and welfare cuts

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Some 550 party members responded, and we’ve been publishing the results in recent days.

Party members back Coalition spending cuts and welfare cuts by 2:1 majorities

LDV asked: Do you think the government has on the whole made the right decisions or the wrong decisions about where spending cuts should be made?

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Benefit caps and central London: how many children will be moving school?

Many Liberal Democrats I’ve spoken to have mixed feelings about the proposed benefit cap and some of the housing benefit changes. On the one hand, they have very little sympathy with the complaints of people such as Frank Dobson that rule changes means he wouldn’t be able to afford to stay in his council flat. Count me in the camp who doesn’t think council housing should be used to let ex-ministers with decades of salary earning that puts them amongst the best paid in the country and with membership of a decent pension scheme live in one of London’s most …

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Welfare Reform Bill published today

The Government’s Welfare Reform Bill is being published today and its measures are mostly as previously trailed. The big policy in it is the Universal Credit – a major simplification to a horrendously complicated benefits system – and a very Liberal Democrat policy.

Because of the heavy previous trailing of the Welfare Reform Bill’s measures there are no major surprises in what it proposes but there are three respects in which it shows the outcome of the at times very lively debate within government – mostly, though not always, Liberal Democrat versus Conservative – about its contents. In that respect, …

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Housing benefit reforms set to be delayed

The BBC reports:

Millions of people who currently claim housing benefit are to be given more time before cuts are introduced.

Ministers had planned to introduce a cap from next April on how much housing benefit could be claimed.

But the BBC understands that existing claimants will now have until January 2012 to adjust their circumstances if needed before the caps are brought in.

The Department for Work and Pensions would not confirm the move, which it said was “speculation”.

Simon Hughes’s response has been:

If the reports about changes to the housing benefit proposals are true, then this will be very welcome. Many of

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Opinion: Are the poor going to be driven out of the south by the Coalition’s housing benefit reforms?

A shocking story in the Guardian this week that, not content with driving the poor out of Kensington and Chelsea, the Coalition’s cap on housing benefit would force them out of southern England altogether. Worse, this came from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), who sound like they ought to know what they are talking about.

I rang up the CIH and asked how I could get hold of a copy of the study and was surprised to hear that there has been not actually been one. They are apparently ‘doing some work for a Select Committee’ which …

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LDV survey: What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition’s economic policies, housing benefit, and the CSR

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum to discover what Lib Dem members think of the contest for the party presidency, the Comprehensive Spending Review, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. Almost 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results over the next few days.

What Lib Dem members think of the Coalition’s economic policies

Which of these statements comes closest to your opinion about how the Coalition should go about reducing the deficit?

    45% – It is important to cut spending quickly even if this means immediate job losses, because it will be better

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John Hemming MP writes… The Rent’s too damn high

Why the housing benefit changes are not about social cleansing, but instead about getting rents reduced for all tenants.

In New York there is a political party named “The Rent’s too damn high”, founded by Jimmy McMillan. What he argues is that life is difficult in New York because rents are too high. It is important to recognise that private sector rents are also an issue in the UK as well as those funded by the state.

Since November 2008 private rents have gone down by 5% and private rents funded by Local Housing Allowance (LHA) have gone up by 3%. The government changed the housing benefit system for private landlords a few years ago replacing Housing Benefit with a Local Housing Allowance. As LHA will be paid regardless of how high the rent actually is, this has driven up the rents paid in this sector. In comparison to the rents on the old Housing Benefit an additional 10% is being paid through LHA.

It is worth noting that the upward pressure on rents from LHA has also driven up rents paid by people who don’t get Housing Benefit. This is neither helpful to the country, where money is being borrowed to overpay landlords nor is it helpful to the lower paid who are renting privately.

The government, therefore, has a number of objectives in controlling housing benefit:

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The same policy can be good or evil – depends who thought of it

In May 2010, the Labour Party pledged to cap Housing Benefit. In their manifesto , they argued that the State shouldn’t be subsidising people to live in private rented properties that “ordinary working families” couldn’t afford.

Over 600 Labour parliamentary candidates happily stood on the pledge, not a whisper of opposition to the idea was heard from their ranks.

Fast forward to October 2010, five months later, and the Coalition Government come up with the same plan.

Not only was the Coalition scheme denounced by Labour in the strongest terms, with talk of “social cleansing” echoing the horrific Kosovan experiences, …

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Labour’s manifesto pledge to cap Housing Benefit

Those listening to Labour’s outrage about the so-called “social cleansing” they believe would result in capping Housing Benefit to four hundred pounds a week might get he impression that Labour opposes the policy.

Odd, then, that it appears in the Labour Party manifesto for the 2010 General Election :

Our goal is to make responsibility the cornerstone of our welfare state. Housing Benefit will be reformed to ensure that we do not subsidise people to live in the private sector on rents that other ordinary working families could not afford. And we will continue to crack down on those who try

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