Those with disabilities face distress due to housing benefit changes, MPs say
- 02 Apr
MPs are warning that changes to housing benefit to people across the UK are creating "financial hardship and distress" for people with disabilities.
The work and Pensions Committee have said that the reduction in payments to social housing tenants seen to be living in homes larger than their needs have hit those with vulnerabilities not intended targets. They say the rules were having a "severe" effect.
However, the government has said its reforms were restoring fairness to the system, reports the BBC.
Social housing tenants have found that their benefits have been reduced by 14% for having one spare bedroom. For those with two or more spare room, they have seen reductions of 25%.
In a report the committee urged the government to exempt anyone whose home has been adapted to help them cope with their disability.
Chairwoman, Labour MP Dame Anne Begg, said: "The government has reformed the housing cost support system with the aim of reducing benefit expenditure and incentivising people to enter work. But vulnerable groups who were not the intended targets of the reforms and are not able to respond by moving house or finding a job are suffering as a result. The government's reforms are causing severe financial hardship and distress to vulnerable groups, including disabled people. Using housing stock more efficiently and reducing overcrowding are understandable goals. Somebody with a disability and many of these people will not be able to move home easily due to their disability. So, they have to remain in their homes with no option but to have their housing benefit reduced."
But a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "Our reforms are necessary to restore fairness to the system and make a better use of social housing. Unreformed, the housing benefit bill would have grown to £26bn in 2013-14. We have given councils £345m since reforms came in last year to support vulnerable groups, especially disabled people. The removal of the spare room subsidy means we still pay the majority of most claimants' rent. But we are saving the taxpayer £1m a day which was being paid for extra bedrooms and are freeing up bigger homes for people forced to live in cramped, overcrowded accommodation."
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Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "It was well-run, in a good location, and very useful. I've only one suggestion; as the session went on it would perhaps have been useful for bullet points of general agreement about what should be in the sector response to be displayed and added to as the session went on, maybe on a flip chart. Regarding your response paper, I particularly like the answer you give to question 9. In fact the general: "if it ain't broke don't fix it" response could be pushed harder." M.P. - Adref Ltd