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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
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 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.
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.
More than 1.6m people who are on housing benefit live in the private rented sector.
The statistic emerged in the answer to a question asked by Labour MP Ian Mearns of the Department for Work and Pensions.
There will be a huge shortage of affordable private rental accommodation for tenants on housing benefit if reforms go ahead next spring as currently suggested.
The warning has come from the Government’s spending watchdog, the National Audit Office.