The impact of cuts to local housing allowance (LHA) really hit home this week when it emerged that a London council has appealed to nearly 1,200 housing associations for help to find homes for those on its waiting list.
Newham Council was in the spotlight for trying to find affordable rented accommodation for its LHA tenants, blaming the spiralling rents in the borough and the housing benefit cap for no longer being able to afford to put up tenants in the private rented sector.
The Government has cut housing allowance by introducing new caps on the maximum weekly allowance that can be claimed and those aged under 35 will be among the worst affected as they are now only entitled to the allowance for a single person renting a room in shared accommodation. (Click here to find out more about the changes.)
The move could see thousands of people forced to look for alternative accommodation as cuts bite and they can no longer afford their property.
In the North East, and other areas, we may not feel the impact like those in the South – rents are much lower than those in London - but Newham Council is not the only local authority struggling to find homes.
And because our rents are so much more affordable they will inevitably look to relocate tenants to the north.
With the latest GDP figures revealing that the UK is in a double dip recession, and the lack of construction output highlighted as one of the main factors, it’s unlikely that any investment will be made into new affordable social housing developments.
My concern is that the Government’s cuts will force councils to create communities where only the most deprived families live – ‘ghettoising’ a whole strata of society.
They will move their council tenants to properties with the lowest rent, which are usually in less affluent areas blighted by high levels of unemployment and where real job opportunities are few and far between.
Young people brought up in this type of environment won’t have high aspirations and will be more likely to rely on government support in their adult life. The impact of these cuts will be felt by many generations to come. Surely, as a civilised, democratic and caring society, people in 21stCentury Britain deserve better?
Ajay Jagota, MD KIS Lettings