This is the text of a letter I sent to the Observer yesterday regarding proposed changes to housing benefit entitlement. We are worried that the changes will result in a massive increase in homelessness and rough sleeping:
“Will the rich really bear the burden?
I welcome the statement from Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary of the Treasury, that the burden of cuts should fall most heavily on the wealthier in our society (Letters, “The rich will bear the burden” 04/07/10). This commitment should lead the government to reconsider its proposed changes to housing benefit (HB) entitlement.
Brighton Housing Trust is predicting a massive increase in rough sleeping and homelessness in Brighton and Hove should the measures be implemented. A single person on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) living in a typical one bed flat will see their entitlement to HB reduce by £11.51 per week and, from 2013, a further £13.81 if they have been on JSA for more than 12 months.
There is a ‘landlord market’ in Brighton and there is no reason for them to reduce rents. This means that tenants will have to make up the £25.32 shortfall in their rent from their JSA of £64.55, leaving them just £39.23 for food, heat, light, clothes, TV licence, and all other expenses. If they do make up this shortfall, they will be evicted. The burden for the rich is unlikely to be homelessness.
BHT supports the determination of government to see people move from welfare dependency and into work. But should people be made homeless, they will be further away from employment and the cost getting them ready for work will be greater, not to mention additional costs for policing and to the health and prison services”.