Saturday, 6 November 2010

Housing Benefit - a few facts

Touchstone blog has recently published a few posts in response to the ConDem claims that Housing Benefit allows unemployed families to live in better areas than those in work.

Research conducted by the DWP:

the research concluded that HB arrangements do not unduly favour LHA recipients compared to most low-income working families, with the exception of a small group of households with children aged under 16 who are worse off than other household groups in terms of the property size that they occupy and the rates they would be entitled to if they were eligible for HB. Essentially a small number of large families in expensive rental areas are accommodated in better accommodation when out of work than they could afford in-work on a low income, but this specific issue is not representative of the HB system overall. Unfortunately enormous and badly thought through reform of the HB system is being justified on the premise that it is.

Despite this George Osborne has claimed that

Today there are some families receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit. The cost of that single award is equivalent to the total income tax and national insurance paid by 16 working people on median incomes. It is clear that the system of housing benefit is in dire need for reform

The Daily Telegraph decided to investigate this and despite being decidedly pro cuts, they came up with this. The number of families claiming this enormous figure is exactly three. Yes, you read it right, three.

As Touchstone points out
2 billion a year seems like quite a lot to save by cutting the HB of three households. In fact, even if each of these households had their entire HB benefit entitlement stopped (a move that would be counterproductive, as it would leave them homeless creating many additional funding costs) only 0.015 per cent of the savings the Government is seeking would be achieved.

How could this be? The reality that the Government refuse to acknowledge is that the vast majority of losers from these changes are not large families in central London mansions, but low income households up and down the country.

The facts and figures are there. But somehow I doubt IDS and Osborne will use them. They don't fit in with their ideology. Just more proof that they are determined to abolish the welfare state at all costs.

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