'Unclear' benefit change effects

Ministers have been criticised for their approach to housing benefit reform, where even the smallest reductions can have a severe impact on the finances of the poorest people, MPs have said.

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Couple fear they will not get discretionary payment

Cerebral palsy sufferer Lisa Munden and partner Brett Fage live in a two bedroom house in Essex.

They face paying more from housing benefit changes because, as a couple, they are expected to share a room.

Lisa Munden and her partner and full time carer Brett Fage Credit: Daybreak

The couple have applied for the extra money available to local authorities to help people with disabilities.

Speaking to Daybreak, Lisa said: "Because we are a couple it doesn't mean to say we sleep in the same room."

She added, "if you go in my bedroom now, it's full of pillows because when I go to bed I have to have pillows to hold me in that position, so even though it's a double bed, by the time he's put the pillows in, there isn't any room for him."

Labour: Small reductions can have a 'severe impact'

The Public Accounts Committee said the Department for Work and Pensions had a "wait-and-see" approach when it came to the fallout of housing benefit reform.

Even small reductions in housing benefit can have a severe impact on the finances of the poorest people.

At the time of our hearing, far too many of those who stand to be directly affected were worryingly unaware of the reforms and what they will mean for their finances.

Experience from the past suggests that stopping direct payments to social landlords will simply lead to an increase in arrears and evictions.

– Margaret Hodge, Chair of The Public Accounts Committee

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Approach to housing benefit reform criticised by MPs

Ministers have been criticised for their approach to housing benefit reform, where even the smallest reductions can have a severe impact on the finances of the poorest people, MPs have said.

According to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had made no attempt to assess what impact the changes would have on homelessness, rent levels and arrears.

'Unclear' approach to housing benefit reform the Commons Public Accounts Committee said Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

A report from the Committee added that exemptions and discretionary payments are confusing, and no-one knows how badly claimants will be affected.

From April, if you claim housing benefit and live in what is classed as under occupied social housing, you will have to pay a "bedroom tax" if you want to stay in your home.

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