Response - DWP: Housing Benefit Withdrawal for Anti-Social Behaviour

By: Nicola Robinson  Published: August 2003


The Government issued proposals on cutting housing benefit for anti social tenants, proposing that sanctions could be triggered with or without court action. Shelter's response in August 2003 opposed this inappropriate response to anti-social behaviour.

Summary

Shelter's core concerns

HB is an entitlement that enables people on low incomes to pay for their housing. It is not designed as a tool to achieve other policy objectives and attempting to use it as such is likely to have undesirable effects. Housing benefits and housing provision must not be restricted to those who 'deserve' them. Therefore, we did not agree with the principle that receipt of HB should be dependant on 'acceptable' behaviour. 

The issues that relate to anti-social behaviour are often complex. People who are 'labelled' anti-social often have high levels of vulnerability and multiple needs. Effective responses need to recognise this and work with individuals to ensure that their support needs are met, thereby tackling and changing their behaviour.

Recommendations

There are alternatives that can meet the political imperative to deliver solutions to the problem of anti-social behaviour. There are existing, successful schemes that combine support and enforcement in line with the rights and responsibilities agenda. These alternatives are the right way forward.

Shelter argued for a three-pronged approach to tackling ASB based on:

  • prevention
  • enforcement
  • resettlement.

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