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24dash - The UK's most up-to-date social housing and public sector news website

One rule for one

Published by Anne Rowlands on Sunday, November 11th, 2012 at 18:27 pm

I read with interest this week details of a Freedom of Information request made by fullfact.org into the welfare reform changes and, in particular, housing benefit.

Housing associations like mine are currently readying themselves for the impact of the planned welfare reform. In particular identifying these residents who will see their housing benefit reduced as a result of them being deemed to under-occupy their home. We will then offer support and advice to those residents and explain the stark choices they may face; find the shortfall, accrue rent arrears or move home.  

In many respects we are in a better position than other landlords as the vast majority of our residents are over 65 and won’t be affected by the changes as they are currently planned.

Whilst everyone agreed welfare reform was needed, this particular policy was aimed at cutting the housing benefit bill (although ministers still insist that it is about better use of the housing stock). A major target of the changes are those families alleged to be claiming over £100,000 a year in housing costs. If you believed the headlines in some of the press you would imagine that this really was a major problem.

The Freedom of Information request, which was published last week, showed that four out of every five housing benefit claims are below £100 per week (the equivalent of £5,200 per year), while only 70 out of 4.5 million recipients claimed over £1,000 per week, around 0.001% of the total. The figures show that there are probably only five claimants receiving more than £100,000 a year.

Based on these figures, perhaps the Government would better off targeting the 500 known British tax dodgers with secret Swiss bank accounts who are not to be prosecuted by the HM Revenue and Customs?

Surely a case of one rule for one, and one rule for another?

 

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