Landlords concerned over new benefit caps

While welcoming plans to drop the scrapping of housing benefit for the under 25s, housing associations are "deeply concerned" around proposals to cap working age benefit increases at 1% for the next three years, as announced by chancellor Geroge Osborne yesterday.

According to the Autumn Statement document the below inflation rise will apply to Jobseeker’s Allowance; Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; applicable amounts for Housing Benefit; Maternity Allowance; Statutory Sick Pay; Statutory Maternity Pay; Statutory Paternity Pay; and Statutory Adoption Pay.

However, the move has concerend landlords who fear it could push those already struggling into poverty. 

Affinity Sutton, which owns and manages over 56,000 homes, said: "We are deeply concerned that proposals to cap working age benefit increases at 1% for the next three years could push those already struggling further into poverty.

"As a landlord we are finding an increasing number of our residents – including those in low paid jobs - are reliant on food banks to help feed themselves and their families each week and in real terms, this measure will make even more of our poorest residents worse off.  We are also concerned that cutting benefits, in real terms, will force more people to resort to high interest payday loans to meet everyday expenses."

Paul Parkinson, executive director at Futures Housing Group, which provides more than 5,500 homes across Derbyshire, said the below inflation rise of 1% in some welfare benefits will have a "detrimental effect" on a number of its residents.

Mr Parkinson said: “This at a time when household budgets will face increasing pressure, with the onset of the “bedroom tax” and reductions in Council Tax benefit due from April next year.

“Along with our peers, we’re working hard to identify at-risk individuals and signpost families to expert advisors, linking up with our in-house teams or partner organisations including local credit unions.

“However there appears to be no new support on offer for these organisations, which is something we hope to see the Government revisit over the coming months.

“We can expect to see an increase in demand for support-based services at a time when further cuts on Local Authority spending are signalled, resulting in further stress on vulnerable individuals.  Our challenge will be helping those individuals on a one-to-one level to help protect the sustainability of our communities in the future.”