Dear Mr Buckland,
Although not a claimant of Housing Benefit myself, I am very concerned about the changes which the government is enacting. Firstly, there is the question of the cap on total claims and then of the imposition of the “bedroom criteria”.
I have heard the justifications that HB is too costly and that claimants should not be seen to receive benefits that “hard working families” do not. The very people whose HB is being reduced are often those very same “hard working families”, struggling to exist on the minimum wage.
If your government is really concerned about the high cost of HB, wouldn’t it make more sense to introduce rent controls and also to regulate short term tenancies, so that greedy private landlords could not take advantage of peoples’ desperate need for a home? We have heard only today on Radio 4 about the desperate plight of private renters in Newham whose landlords are hoping to profit from lucrative Olympic rentals.
The housing needs of the poor have been ignored for too long by governments of both major parties, while owner occupation has been promoted as the only “respectable” form of tenure. Even now in the face of a housing crisis of major proportions the government is trying to persuade council tenants to buy their homes by offering an even greater discount, thus compounding the disaster of the original right to buy scheme, which so drastically reduced public housing stocks in this country. What is needed now is the sort of major Council House building programme which was embarked upon by both parties after WW2.
This would I suggest be a better and more compassionate response to our current housing situation than punishing the poor for their poverty and justifying such a disgraceful policy by pretending that is based on spurious criteria of fairness.