Welfare changes could cause homelessness

4 July 2011

Mother and two children

Government ministers may have seen analysis that proposed changes to welfare benefits could make 40,000 families homeless, it has been revealed by the Observer.

A letter sent to the prime minister by communities secretary Eric Pickles, leaked to the newspaper, warns that "… we could see an additional 20,000 homelessness acceptances as a result of the total benefit cap. This on top of the 20,000 additional acceptances already anticipated as a result of other changes to housing benefit.’

It also suggests that the reforms could result in fewer homes being built, as the housing benefit cap will prevent developers recouping costs through rent, giving them no incentive to build new properties.

According to the Observer, the letter says: ‘Initial analysis suggests that of the 56,000 new affordable rent units up to 23,000 could be lost …And reductions would disproportionately affect family homes rather than small flats.’

Shelter CEO Campbell Robb responded to the story saying: ‘With 21% of people struggling to meet housing costs, it's naive to think you can cut support without putting some people at risk of losing their home.

‘The coalition government should stop bulldozing through badly thought-through policies while ignoring independent evidence, its own expert panel and the views of those who will deal with the very real impact on people.’

Research carried out by Shelter and the Chartered Institute of Housing in March 2011 showed that the proposed reforms will have a severe impact on families’ ability to find decent, affordable homes to rent.

Local councils are also concerned: a Shelter survey published last week revealed that many councillors believe that housing benefit cuts will cause a significant strain on public services.

If you have concerns about how housing benefit or local housing allowance changes will affect you, get information here.