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East Enders could lose their homes through benefit changes, charity warns

PUBLISHED: 15:26 25 May 2011 | UPDATED: 16:59 25 May 2011

People aged 25 to 35 are to have their housing entitlements changed

People aged 25 to 35 are to have their housing entitlements changed

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More young adults in Tower Hamlets could lose their homes through changes to housing benefit than in most other parts of the country, a charity warns.

Single people aged 25 to 35 will lose an average of £109 a week making the borough the third worst hit in England.

As of January next year, claimants will only be given enough to rent a room rather than a one-bedroom flat.

Homelessness charity Crisis said the effects will weigh heavy on disabled people, women escaping domestic violence and young adults trying to get away from life on the streets.

Many will be forced to resort to rough sleeping, the charity warned.

Crisis chief executive Leslie Morphy said: “London must never return to the days when widespread rough sleeping was a fact of life… It will lead to thousands of people losing their homes and we are extremely concerned that some won’t be able to find any anywhere else to live.”

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, said she has been challenging the changes since last year when they were announced.

She added: “The Government’s changes to housing benefit put at risk the homes of thousands of single people and families in London, and especially Tower Hamlets.

“Housing benefit is claimed by many people in low paid jobs, disabled people and those escaping domestic violence; as well as those who have fallen on hard times – we can’t have a situation where inner London housing becomes a no go area for poorer people.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said people in the most vulnerable situations would be exempt from the changes.

A spokesperson added: “[The reforms] are about restoring fairness to a system which has spiralled out of control and ensuring that benefit claimants make the same choices about affordability as everyone else.

“Nearly two thirds of people currently in receipt of the Shared Accommodation Rate would be entitled to the one bedroom rate if they decided to live in self-contained accommodation. This shows that many of these people actually choose to share accommodation with others.”

A fund of more than £200,000 has been given to Tower Hamlets for the neediest claimants.

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