Boris must protect families from Government’s benefits cuts

BORIS Johnson should protect families from the Government’s plans for a total cap of �500-a-week on their benefits, including child and housing benefit.

The increase in social housing rents to 80 per cent of average market rent—with a maximum housing benefit cap of �400 a week—will affect those who are out of work, those who cannot find a job or those too sick to work. There are currently three applicants for every job in London.

Many families in temporary accommodation or on waiting lists won’t be able to afford social housing, while social landlords will be unable to build new family housing.

Government spending on housing benefit payments, in fact, will increase.

As many as 116,000 of families and 300,000 children in London could be affected, according to Department for Work and Pension statistics.

This policy will drive a stake through Boris Johnson’s policy of providing social rented homes for families with two or more children and spell the end of social housing for families.

The Mayor said in his Housing Strategy in February that he was committed to helping hard-pressed families who have suffered badly from the housing shortages and affordability problems, with his target of 42 per cent of social rented homes to be family-sized.

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Unless the Government policy changes, social landlords are likely to build only small homes in high market rent areas and possibly won’t be able to provide any social housing where market rents are low—because rents won’t make up for the loss of grant or let them be able to fund new housing for low rent returns.

It is difficult to see how social housing for families will survive.

The nuts and bolts are that families with two or more children will not be able to afford the new rents and will have to stay in expensive, temporary accommodation. Other households will need more housing benefit because of rent increases.

Nicky Gavron (Lab)

Housing Spokesperson

London Assembly

City Hall