Housing, THE GRAPEVINE! news, comment & a bit of gossip, Welfare to Work

Simon Hughes tackles the Coalition on Housing Benefit reform

Housing Minister Grant Shapps was challenged by Simon Hughes & Labour MP Karen Buck in the House of Commons about proposed changes to Housing Benefit. Simon Hughes called for Grant Shapps and DWP colleagues to meet a cross-party group of London MPs to ensure that the policy not unfair.

See House of Commons questions


The reforms will save nearly £2 billion in the financial year 2014-15 and marks the first plank of the reform of the benefits system.

Local Housing Allowance (LHA) will now be restricted to a maximum of four bedrooms for new and existing claimants. Alongside this, weekly LHA rates will be capped at £250 for a one bedroom property, £290 for two, £340 for three and £400 for a four bedroom property.

LHA rates will now also be based on the thirtieth percentile of rents of the local area. The Coalition argues that the impact of this reform is that hard working individuals and families will no longer have to subsidise people living in properties they themselves could not afford. From April 2013 LHA will be uprated by CPI.

To help make work pay from April 2013, people who have been on Jobseeker’s Allowance for 12 months or more, will have a 10% reduction in their Housing Benefit.

Working age HB claimants who are living in a property that is too large for their household size will have their benefit capped. To help the most vulnerable people who could be affected by this change, the Additional Discretionary Housing Payments budget will be tripled to £60 million a year from 2013-14.


  1. I am disgusted how the government is behaving,I lived in private rent for 5years before I got the council house,I would have not been able to afford to stay in private housing with out housing benefit it helped me to pay some of my private rent,other than that I would have been out on the street with 2 young children as there was very few council houses as they had all been bought by the council tenants under another Tory government.they had not built any new ones.
    Regards being on job seekers and losing there 10% of housing benefit after they have been on JS for over a year to encourage them to find a job it would help if there were any jobs out there,I have a disability and i am finding it very difficult to find a job as employers are finding employees from other country’s to do the the the job half the price they would pay UK”s
    It would cause debt and rent arrears as well if they lost 10% of there housing benefit.do the government think we like being out of work well I don’t.

  2. Thanks Doc Floyd -sadly I can’t currently share your confidence ! Only precise information on the finer details of this cap and the announcement of an exemption for carers and disabled people will stop us all from worrying.
    Carers especially have cause for concern – and many of those carers are forced to rely on benefits that fail to recognise the work they do in their caring role – this is just a kick in the teeth for this group who have enough stress and worry already.

  3. Discretionary housing benefit is just that – DISCRETIONARY! It can easily be refused and if allowed there is no guarentee that it will be allowed the following year – carers especially will be left living year to year worrying about whether their home is safe. Additonally the forms for discretionary HB are degrading and this will put many people off trying to claim it.

    And just WHO has the discretion in these claims? If people have had cause to complain in the past will their claim automatically be denied by somebody with a chip on their shoulder?

    Many carers will fall foul of this cap on HB – having brought up a family and now caring for a disabled spouse or adult offspring they will have a spare room from other adult offspring leaving home. The home may be adapted for the person they care for and they may have a support network of friends/family living locally. If this cap makes them homeless then they could lose their support network and any new home may not be suitable for the person they care for – so councils will face higher costs for installing adaptations in many new homes! Also as people are forced to move (some through eviction when they can not keep up the extra costs of losing HB) they will move into the private sector where rents are higher – so HB costs to councils will increase! Add to that the fact that private tennancies are not secure and many carers and those they care for will become an invisible and transient group who will constantly miss out on services that are supposed to help them as they have to move every time the landlord decides not to renew their tennancy!

    Carers and disabled people need an exemption from this new rule to protect them from all the pit falls it carries with it.

    • Dear Pat you have expertly outlined the complicated mix of issues and variables that will impact on public finances, carers and disabled people. The law of unintended consequences is so well known but it does seem that at times scant regard is given to it. As you rightly point out, the costs could escalate quite significantly whilst at the same time causing distress and uncertainty to those in real need. I am however confident that as a result of the work of Mr Hughes et.al and voluntary sector organisations the Minister will review the specific impact of this policy on carers and the disabled.

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