Housing benefit is vital in supporting people with their housing costs and in ensuring people's housing stability. Crisis has long called for reform of housing benefit to better support housing stability and to remove barriers to work. However, the cuts announced in the recent budget and the Comprehensive Spending Review will not achieve these ends, will adversely affect some of the most disadvantaged in society and are likely to lead to an increase in homelessness.
In addition, the Government's Welfare Reform Bill introduces a Universal Credit, with the aim of simplifying welfare, lifting people out of poverty and making sure work always pays. Whilst Crisis supports these aims, and has been campaigning for such changes for many years, we are concerned about how the housing element of Universal Credit will be calculated.
Penalty to the poorest
In June 2010, the Government announced plans for a 10 per cent cut in housing benefit for anyone on Jobseekers' Allowance for more than a year. This brutal cut announced in the emergency budget would have hit single homeless people the hardest because they would not be entitled to any other income support from the state - other than their Jobseeker's Allowance cash. Forced to make up the shortfall in their Housing Benefit with a substantial proportion of their dole money, the amount left for food, clothing and energy would rapidly decrease.
Crisis, along with other homelessness organisations, tirelessly warned the Government against the cut to stop the poor from being punished with unfair sanctions.
Government drops the penalty
In February 2011, Ian Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, announced the Government would drop this cut from the Welfare Reform Bill. Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "You won't see this in the bill for one very good reason - all of those people were going to move on to the work programme anyway, so they would be having intensive help to get them back to work."
The Shared Accommodation Rate
Crisis have been campaigning against a benefit cut that will lead to tens of thousands of 25 to 34 year-olds becoming homeless. Whilst some exemptions have been announced, we remain very disappointed that the Government is going ahead with this damaging cut.
Crisis campaign on other housing benefit cuts
- Find out how to get involved in our campaigns.
- Read our Myth Busting leaflet, launched at the 2010 party conferences.
- Read our policy briefing on housing benefit cuts.
- Read recent Crisis news stories about our housing benefit campaign.
- Read our response to the Work and Pensions select committee enquiry into the impact of the changes to housing benefit.
- We have worked with other major homelessness organisations to write letters to Grant Shapps MP, Minister for Housing (see the letter here) Lord Freud, Welfare Reform Minister (see the letter here) and to all MPs (see the letter here).
See media reports on our campaign against housing benefit cuts
- "Don't be taken in by housing benefit bunk" in Society Guardian
- "This benefit cut will hit the poorest" in Guardian's Comment is Free
- "Housing cuts will hit the poor hardest" in The Mirror
- "Spending review 2010: public services experts on the coalition's plans" in The Guardian
- "The political - and human - costs of housing benefit reform" in The Spectator.