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Housing benefit cuts put 1700 homes out of reach


Reporter: Mark Taylor Reporter

Email: out&about@newburynews.co.uk
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HOUSING benefit reforms have resulted in the loss of 1,700 homes to those most in need in West Berkshire.
Cuts to housing benefit and the introduction of a benefits cap, as part of the welfare reform bill, which came into force at the turn of the year have taken the properties out of the reach of larger families, and the Chartered Institute for Housing (CIH) and Sovereign Housing have this week warned that the knock-on effect could push more families into debt and arrears.
Clare Powell, the director of strategy for Sovereign Housing Association, said: “We are very concerned about the proposed welfare reforms and we have been working closely with the National Housing Federation and other housing associations to understand how the changes will impact on our residents, and to make sure that the government is clear about the practical implications of their proposals.
“According to the CIH, an estimated 1,700 private rented homes in West Berkshire will no longer be available to those who need them, and Sovereign and other housing associations will not be able to make up this shortfall; in 2010/11, Sovereign re-let 253 homes in West Berkshire.
“Families in private rented accommodation will increasingly seek the kind of support we provide, and put even greater pressure on West Berkshire's housing waiting lists.”
She said it could result in some people not getting enough benefit to cover rent, but being unable to move anywhere cheaper due to a lack of options.
The MP for Newbury, Richard Benyon, defended the Government's welfare reforms and said the aim was to stop exploitation of the system by those working it to their advantage.
“This is meant to take those people who live in large houses out of receiving big benefits,” he said.
“It is all about fairness and making sure we are helping those in need. Those benefits need to be given to those most in need.”

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