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8 August 2019 more...
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Housing providers have welcomed a far-reaching report which calls on the Government to review major areas of its welfare reform policy.
In its hard-hitting report the all-party Department of Work and Pensions Select Committee has made a string of recommendations around the Social Sector Size Criteria (SSSC), known as the bedroom tax, Discretionary Housing Payments and those living with disability.
Tony Stacey, the Chair of PlaceShapers, said: “This report is excellent news for us as housing providers and for our tenants. While it stops short of recommending the abolition of the bedroom tax, it makes recommendations, which if implemented, would go a long way towards drawing the sting out of the most pernicious aspects.“
From the evidence members received, the Committee has clearly taken on board that much of the welfare reform policy, including the bedroom tax, has had a devastating effect on many vulnerable tenants and has questioned whether it has achieved the Government’s objective in making best use of our housing stock.
“We are also pleased to see the committee has recognised that Discretionary Housing Payments are an inadequate way to provide extra support to some households, particularly where people have disabilities.”
PlaceShapers, represented by Aileen Evans, Managing Director of Aragon Housing Association, was among those who gave oral evidence to the parliamentary committee in December.Members of the committee also visited a number of housing associations’ tenants and staff to see first hand the impact of the Government’s reform.
The report labels the bedroom tax ‘a blunt instrument’ and recommends that the Government should take a closer look at the following:
1. That bedroom tax should not be applied where there is no suitable reasonable alternative accommodation.
2. That disabled people in adapted homes should be exempt from the bedroom tax
3. That vulnerable people should be allowed to have their housing costs paid directly to their landlords if they prefer when Universal credit is introduced.
4. That under-occupation should be determined by the number of bed spaces, not the number of bedrooms.
5. That households with someone in receipt of higher level mobility or care component of Disability Living Allowance or the equivalent in Personal Independence Payment be exempt.
The report also recommends that the Government should undertake a thorough review of the cost to the tax-payer of the bedroom tax, taking into account the cost impact on local authorities and housing associations.It also calls on the Government to consider extra funding to social housing providers to help with the additional cost of dealing with the bedroom tax to make sure their ability to build much-needed new homes is not adversely affected.
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Sarah Walker, Communications Manager