A Government Equality Analysis has revealed that some of the UK’s poorest pensioners could be forced from their homes due to George Osborne’s Benefit Uprating measures which will cap Local Housing Allowance (LHA) increases at 1%.
Disabled people, and those with children, are also likely to be affected and could find themselves forced to move the analysis warns.
Osborne announced in his Autumn statement last year that for the next two years almost all benefit increases will be capped at 1% no matter what happens to inflation. With food, fuel and travel costs soaring this will place huge pressure on those who are already facing a desperate struggle for survival due to the raft of other vicious cuts to social security.
Up until now pensioners have been largely excluded from the savage cuts and rightly so. The Equality Analysis reveals however that those over 65 living in private rented accommodation will be affected by the Benefit Uprating Bill.
According to the DWP, 12% of private renters claiming Local Housing Allowance (LHA) are over 65. The only criteria for claiming LHA is income and assets, meaning that this benefit only goes to the poorest households – and the poorest pensioners. It appears that the Government are only interested in protecting better off pensioners. Those who are poor and already struggling between the choice of heating or eating can now add paying the rent to this horrific dilemma.
The Equality Analysis states: “the 65 plus age group renting in the private sector may be disproportionately disadvantaged than others of working age as they are more likely to be disabled or have a health condition and are far less likely to be able to increase their household income, either through working or increasing hours of work. Moving may be more of a challenge for claimants in this group that rely on local community support systems or have specific accommodation needs (eg. If they need to be in a ground floor property).”
The report also warns that lone parents and disabled people will be disproportionally affected by the cut, as these groups may find it more difficult to move if they can no longer afford the rent. It also reveals that 46% of those impacted will be single women – with or without children – compared to 25% of those hit who will be single men.
In a crude attempt to offset some of the carnage from this change the Government has announced a Targeted Affordability Funding scheme. This will provide some money for extra LHA increases in areas where rents rises far outstrip the meagre 1% on offer. Astonishingly this money will not be used to increase housing benefits in the highest rent areas such as London where LHA is already capped far below market rents in many areas. According to the report: “those LHA rates which are currently capped in the most expensive areas will only increase by 1% as all LHA rates will still be subject to maximum limits”.
This Government is intent on socially cleansing the poor from London and other better off areas by any means necessary.
The DWP are quite open about the fact that the cap on LHA increases will mean some people will have to move. In the section of the analysis on how the impact of this policy will be mitigated it suggests that: “Some claimants may consider looking for cheaper accommodation”.
What this will mean in practice is that some claimants – including pensioners and disabled people – will be made homeless. Few people on the lowest incomes can afford to just move at the drop of a hat even if there is anywhere for them to move to. With house prices rising and the rental market sure to follow the trend, the number of properties affordable to those on benefits is set to shrink even further.
All measures of homelessness are rising and the use of foodbanks is at record levels. Not content with this, George Osborne’s Benefit Uprating Bill will mean that the UK’s poorest people are set to be made even poorer on an annual basis. No-one is to be excluded, not those in work on low wages or those who have worked their entire lives and are now drawing a pension. Meanwhile George Osborne has just spent £10 million of our money on some fancy office furniture.
You can read the Equality Analysis at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/262034/lha-uprating-equality-analysis.pdf
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