Government plans are also set to plunge thousands of people on housing benefit further into poverty. Ministers want to scrap housing benefit for tenants in private rented properties and replace it with a new flat rate local housing allowance, which will be paid direct to tenants rather than to their landlords.
The flat rate benefit will mean people whose rents are higher than the set allowance level will have to find the extra money themselves—a move that will either force poor families into even worse accommodation or into debt.
Areas piloting flat rate housing benefits have produced grotesque inequalities. In Coventry, under 25s were given just £50 per week while older tenants got £85. The figures in Lewisham, south east London, were £90 for under 25s and £200 for older tenants.
The pilots also revealed how some landlords put tenants’ rents up where they fell below the allowance rate in order to cream off the money for themselves.