Recent News

Disabled face 'being kicked out of homes for having an extra bedroom'

A Labour MP has questioned the fairness of the Government’s under occupation plans for the social sector, warning that many of his disabled constituents who have had adaptations to their homes face being “kicked out for having an extra bedroom”.

Under the Government’s size criteria rules for the social sector – which kick in next April – working age social tenants face having their housing benefit cut for having spare bedrooms. 

Super-strength alcohol killing homeless people

Government moves to impose a minimum cost per unit of alcohol have been backed by a homelessness charity that has campaigned against super-strength drinks - which it claims kill more homeless people than crack and heroin.

Thames Reach, which runs street outreach services and a variety of supported housing projects in London, has urged the Government to increase the price of strong alcoholic drinks and has also called for drink companies to self-regulate. 

Housing minister told to get to grips with PRS

Pressure is continuing to mount on new housing minister Mark Prisk to get to grips with the private rental sector.

Prisk – who is currently treading the party line that he will not regulate either agents or landlords, although before he got his ministerial job he had tried to get just such a measure enacted – is to be pressed for action following a meeting at the House of Lords. 

Homeless people 'not being treated with dignity or respect'

The Government's Work Programme is failing homeless people with over half (58%) complaining that they have not been treated with dignity or respect, a new report has found.

The report, compiled by homelessness charities Crisis, Homeless Link and St Mungo's, reveals that 58% of those surveyed were not asked about the barriers they face getting into work, and 54% said they saw a Jobcentre Plus adviser less than once a month. 

Welfare cuts putting 'incredible pressure' on housing services

Brighton and Hove's housing services are facing a crisis, with the council claiming that the city has been "singled-out" for austerity.

Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, Brighton and Hove City Council's deputy leader, has said that a "perfect storm" of housing and council tax benefit changes have meant "that many vulnerable people aren’t going to be able to get the help they need to keep a roof over their heads". 

DWP IT system causes benefit data backlog

Worried councils are reporting huge backlogs in their benefits departments due to problems with a new IT system vital to the government’s flagship benefit reforms.

Councils have seen backlogs of thousands of files, in some cases upwards of 10,000, build up under the automated transfers to local authority systems project, or ATLAS. 

Landlords back MPs' call to delay direct payments

Housing associations have backed a call from MPs to delay the direct payment of housing benefit to social tenants under Universal Credit.

The call came from the Work and Pensions Select Committee whose inquiry into Universal Credit recommended that, during the initial phases of the programme, claimants who currently have their housing costs paid to their landlord should have the option to continue with this arrangement. 

Letting agent facing trial after denying fraud charges

An agent is to face trial after denying accusations that he conned a prospective tenant into handing over money to rent a home that was allegedly not his to let out.

Thirugnanaselvam Damayantharan, 50, said in court to have been trading as Kingswood Estate Agents, allegedly showed Elaine Woodside around the property in Purley, Surrey. 

Landlords urge Osborne to axe further welfare cuts

Housing associations have urged the chancellor not to announce further welfare cuts when he delivers his autumn statement next month.

In a submission issued ahead of the 5 December announcement, umbrella body the National Housing Federation calls on George Osborne to reject further welfare cuts and ensure a ‘common-sense approach’ is taken with existing reforms due to come in next year. 

Private rents in London continue to rise

Tenants saw private rents rise by 0.4% in October pushing the average rent across England and Wales to a new record high of £744 per month.

The latest increase means rents have now risen for seven consecutive months and are, on average, 3.4% higher than this time last year. 

Universal Credit 'will not work', say private landlords

A majority of private landlords have rejected the Government’s welfare reform plans for housing benefit, saying there will not be enough accommodation available.

Releasing details of a survey of over 1,000 landlords across the UK, the Residential Landlords Association and the Scottish Association of Landlords found that 65.2% of respondents do not support the Government’s plans for Universal Credit. 

Welfare reform hits private renters hardest

An exodus of benefit recipients from high to low cost neighbourhoods is a widely predicted side effect of the government's controversial welfare ceiling. This £26,000 annual limit, will force thousands to move to cheaper areas as the long-standing principle that housing payments should cover rent completely is dissolved by ministers next year, worried policy analysts claim.

Much less has been said about those who decide to stay put and struggle on. A report published by the Pro-Housing Alliance casts new light on the effect of diminished welfare support on a group officially accepted as the hardest hit by the cap: the 1.4 million private renters. 

Cap on housing benefit could force families to move

The minister for welfare reform Lord David Freud has admitted that a reduced cap on housing benefit could force families in high-value areas to move.

In a speech to the National Landlords Association yesterday, Lord Freud defended the government’s controverial welfare reform programme and reiterated that welfare reform was designed to take control of ‘spiralling welfare costs’. 

Private renting single parents face a life in poverty

The introduction of universal credit could leave many single-parent families facing a life in poverty because of rising private sector housing costs.

A study from the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University found that the caps on how much benefit can be claimed under the new system will leave many worse off even if they take part-time work. 

London councils admit to shipping families miles away

London councils will be forced to ship thousands of families out of the capital – some as far away as Wales – after next April’s benefits cuts mean they are priced out of the private rental market.

A report by the Child Poverty Action Group and Lasa, a welfare rights charity, predicts that 124,480 London households will be hit by a combination of cuts to Local Housing Allowance, the new benefit cap which means no household can claim more than £26,000 a year in total, and under-occupation penalties. 

Housing benefit direct payment tenants taken to court

One of the housing associations involved in the Government’s direct payment demonstration projects has warned social landlords to get strict with their arrears policy ahead of Universal Credit after revealing it has taken five tenants to court over unpaid rent.

GreenSquare Group – which is partnering with Oxford City Council on one of the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) six demonstration projects paying housing benefit directly to tenants – issued the warning to landlords at a welfare reform briefing in London today.