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Housing benefit cuts will hit the poorest hardest - Willott

November 11, 2009 5:32 PM

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today challenged Gordon Brown at Prime Minister's Questions on planned cuts to Housing Benefit.

Current Government plans are to scrap excess payments to local housing allowance claimants where their rent is up to £15 lower than the rate of the allowance. This would see some of the poorest families in the country up to £780 a year worse off.

Commenting, Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central, who has signed a motion in Parliament for the government to scrap its planned cuts, said:

"These plans will hit the poorest in Wales the hardest.

"At the peak of a recession, the last thing low income households in Wales want to hear is that the Labour Government is about to take away up to £15 a week from their purse.

"The Government should scrap these planned cuts before it's too late."

ENDS

Notes to Editors 1. Social housing experts fear that removing excess payments would: * inflate rents in the private rented sector; * remove £15 a week from the pockets of some of the poorest families in the country; * undermine the original principle to hand some choice and responsibility to claimants; * not results in any savings for the government. 2. Jenny has added her name to the following Early Day Motion on the subject which has already attracted the support of backbench Labour MPs. Teather, Sarah That this House strongly opposes the Government's plans to scrap excess payments to local housing allowance claimants where their rent is lower than the rate of the allowance; expresses alarm that this plan would see some of the poorest families in the country up to £780 a year worse off; believes that the withdrawal of excess payments would not result in savings for the Government because tenants would have no incentive to choose cheaper properties and landlords would simply raise their rent to the maximum amount of the allowance, thus transferring £15 a week from poorer families to private landlords; notes that these changes undermine the original objectives of local housing allowance which were to bring choice and fairness to the benefits system while combating poverty; and therefore calls on the Government to abandon its plan to scrap excess payments to local housing allowance claimants.

http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=39300&SESSION=899