Vulnerable Families Evicted in Government’s Housing Benefit Experiment

Posted on: 5th July 2011

News which emerged at the weekend that the Government had ignored official advice that 20,000 families could be made homeless as a result of housing benefit changes has provoked West Cornwall MP, Andrew George, to remind Ministers of the risks they are taking with vulnerable families and the need to have contingencies in place and to keep the situation under close review.

Mr George called a debate in the autumn last year – Vulnerable People (CSR) (9th November 2010) – in which he outlined many of the risks and called upon the Government to keep the policy under review.

Changes were introduced in April this year. Mr George said, “We knew that the Government were using low income housing benefit recipients as pawns in their experiment to drive down rents, and hence the housing benefit budget. The latest disclosures show that they knew what the costs would be in terms of families evicted and made homeless.

“The problem in places like Cornwall is that many landlords have alternative options including the holiday trade and are unlikely to reduce rents to the level at which housing benefit is set. Many families will not be able to meet the shortfall, will get behind with their rent, default and then face eviction.

“Government Ministers should have paid heed to the official warning that 20,000 vulnerable families could face eviction and ultimately homelessness as a result of this measure. Contingency plans are needed.”