Socialist Worker

Children go homeless as Tories plot benefit cuts

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2284

Some 70,000 children in England woke up in temporary accommodation on New Year’s Day, according to the charity Shelter.

This is a 13 percent increase since the beginning of 2011.

And one in four people in Britain are worried about losing their homes, according to a poll by the charity Crisis.

Now the government plans to attack housing benefit claimants with its “welfare reform” bill. The measures in the bill would take £7 billion from the benefits people rely on.

This means that many claimants would lose hundreds of pounds in housing benefits when it comes into effect in 2013.

The cuts will push another 800,000 homes out of reach of those on housing benefits, according to the Chartered Institute of Housing.

This will mean the 21,000 people on housing benefit in Liverpool will only be able to afford 12,000 of its homes.

In Newham, east London, there will be twice as many claimants as there are homes they can afford.

The bill also includes restrictions on where people can live.

Single people aged between 25 and 35 would only be eligible if they find bedrooms in shared houses.

Restrictions on spare bedrooms could affect disabled people who need carers to be able to stay overnight.

But the Labour Party has refused to break with the last Labour government’s taste for attacking benefit claimants.

So Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne launched a new broadside at people on welfare this week, declaring housing benefit is “simply too high”.


Meanwhile Tory housing minister Grant Shapps is preparing to ban council tenants from subletting their homes, and increase rents for tenants on higher wages.

He says he is attacking undeserving tenants in the name of “those in real need [who] languish on the waiting list”.

In reality waiting lists are not the fault of council tenants. The chaos of the housing market has priced hundreds of thousands of homes out of reach of the people who need them.

But this government is determined to attack the poor.

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Article information

Tue 3 Jan 2012, 18:15 GMT
Issue No. 2284
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