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Archive for the ‘Housing’ Category

DWP announce new benefit rates for 2012-13

This publication gives the full list of proposed social security benefits rates for 2012. The annual up-rating of benefits will take place for state pensions and most other benefits in the week beginning 9 April 2012.

 

Benefit rates 2012-2013

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Latest news!! a few days late… sorry

Unlocking growth, apprenticeships, housing, the North West

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Call for Evidence – Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI)

The Minister for Welfare Reform has called for experts and the wider public to provide their views on SMI. In particular:

  • Whether it is right for future new claimants of SMI to receive support indefinitely without the taxpayer having an opportunity to recoup some of those costs to help others in need; and,
  • If after a fixed period of time, new claimants who want to continue receiving support should do so in exchange for a charge being levied on the property which would be paid back to the taxpayer upon its sale.

SMI was introduced to help people who were, or are, struggling to make their mortgage payments.  Without the help available through SMI, a claimant would either have to sell their home or have it repossessed if they could not keep up with mortgage payments.

Lord Freud said:

“The current system of SMI payments does not encourage people to get on top of their own finances. It is also not sustainable. Even with today’s low interest rates it costs Government £400million a year.

“We are committed to supporting homeowners to stay in their own homes when times are hard. But in the future this type of support must be fair and affordable so we are seeking views from experts and the wider public, including options for putting a charge on the homes of future claimants so when they sell up we can recoup some of the costs.”

As a core principle, the Government would look at a charge based on the amount of support provided.

This approach would give future claimants continued security in their homes – knowing that they will receive help from the Government towards their mortgage costs.

Read the DWP Call for Evidence

 

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Housing Minister advises homeless to seek support

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has advised household who face homelessness this Christmas to seek help and advice as soon as possible.

New figures released by the government show that 12,510 people were accepted as owed a main homelessness duty in the third quarter of the year – a rise of 6 per cent since the same period in 2010.

Mr Shapps said anyone needing advice should speak to their councils who can provide help such as:

  • providing budget and rent advice for households having problems paying the rent and at risk of losing their home
  • helping find out if households are eligible for benefits to help with housing costs; and
  • speaking to the landlord on behalf of those at risk of eviction, or offering a rent bond to help them find alternative private rented accommodation.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

“It’s easy to feel alone in the face of financial difficulty but there is help available. Every council has a legal duty to ensure that eligible homeless households are not ‘roofless’, and can provide reams of free advice and information to prevent homelessness in the first place.

“That’s why I would urge anyone facing the threat of being homeless this Christmas to seek help. My message is clear – the quicker you act, the quicker we can help.

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Click here for details of today’s figures

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Care home residents to receive mobility payments

Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, has announced that disabled people who live in residential care will continue to have their additional mobility needs met through Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

After months of consultation with disabled people and disability organisations, and the publication of the Low Review, the government has announced the decision.

An amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill will be brought forward to enable this payment to be carried out through PIP.

Maria Miller said:

“The reasoning behind the original decision was to ensure there were no overlaps in funding leading to double payments. We have spent the last few months gathering information and evidence and visiting disabled people in care homes to find out directly from them how their mobility needs are actually met in practice.

“We found a complex set of overlapping responsibilities have evolved which have allowed different local authorities to deal with the issue of funding of mobility in care homes in very different ways and some practices which have lead to overlaps in funding.

“However, I have always been clear that I would not make any change that would stop disabled people from getting out and about. Which is why after listening to the strong concerns of disabled people and their organisations, I have taken action and decided not to remove the payment.”

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Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

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Welfare reform and the affect in Norwich

Dozens of charities and organisations came together for a seminar in Norwich City Council over the weekend to discuss the potential impact of the Welfare Reform Bill.

Top on the agenda was the fear that thousands of people in Norwich would end up worse off because of proposed changes to housing benefit, disability allowances, council tax benefit and child maintenance. In particular, there was alarm that under proposals of bringing all benefits together under the Universal Credit, benefits would be capped and housing benefit cut for people who had “spare” rooms.

Labour Peer Baroness Hollis recognised that they now needed to go on the offensive. Baronness Hollis recognised that the principles of the Universal Credit was good but the problem was that it was part of a turf war between the Department forWork and Pensions and Department for Communities and Local Government. The impact would be severest on the poorest people in the community.

Shelter also had serious misgivings;

Lesley Burdett, Shelter’s service manager in Norwich, said: “These welfare reforms are a big concern for Shelter. We see it is undermining housing need for lots of individuals, particularly in Norwich.

Particular concerns included plans to cut housing benefit to people in social housing who live in homes which are “too big” for them.

An estimated 2,820 council tenants in Norwich could be affected by these proposals. Tenants with one spare room who decide not to move are set to lose up to 15 per cent of their housing benefit and those with two or more could lose 25per cent from April 2013.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham James, was one of 18 Church of England Bishops who signed an open letter calling for the government to think again over the shake-up, which includes a planned £500-a-week benefits cap for families.

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Grant Shapps: on housing

Housing minister attempts to challenge social housing prejudices

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has announced new flexible tenancies in order to tackle prejudices about social housing and ensure that it becomes a springboard for success.

New instructions have been published by Shapps which will ensure housing associations and councils are able to ensure that more people benefit from social housing for the time that they need it, rather than a home for life .

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

“For too long social housing has been seen by many people as a byword for failure, a home for life in a dead-end street. I want to restore pride to social housing, so a social tenancy is once again seen as a launch pad to fulfil aspirations.

 

“These changes will not affect existing tenants, but allow landlords to make more housing available for those most in need and give people the helping hand they need, for as long as they need it, including lifetime security where it is appropriate.”

The new standards include:

  • Tenure reform: to allow social landlords to issue flexible tenancies, subject to conditions, to make better use of existing and future stock. In implementing these reforms, we will respect the rights of existing secure and assured tenants.

 

  • Mutual exchange: to enable access to internet-based mutual exchange schemes to give tenants who want to move the best possible opportunity of finding a match.

 

  • Tenant involvement: to strengthen landlord accountability to tenants and support the Tenant Cashback model, providing new opportunities for social housing tenants to get involved in commissioning repair and maintenance service for their homes.

 

  • Rent: to make changes to reflect the introduction of the Affordable Rent model.

 

  • Quality of Accommodation: to clarify that providers are expected to maintain their stock at a decent level.

Read the responses to the consultation document and final directions

 

Amanda Frewin

Research & Project Support

 

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