Swindon council officers' homelessness warning over benefit changes

Swindon council officers' homelessness warning over benefit changes

More people could be out on Swindon’s streets thanks to new rules, say council officers

Cllr Russell Holland

First published in News by

HOMELESSNESS could increase in Swindon when a raft of Government benefits changes come into force in April, council officers have warned.

The coalition Government’s Welfare reform Bill aims to reduce expenditure on welfare and incentivise work by ensuring that families in work are better off that those on benefits – but the council recognises it could increase hardship for those already in dire straits.

Swindon Council will have £2m less to hand out as help towards paying council tax.

This means the maximum support anyone can receive – except for pensioner claimants and claimants in households with disabilities – is 80 per cent; leaving the householders to pick up the remaining 20 per cent.

There will also be cuts in housing benefit for social housing tenants deemed to have spare room, so those with one ‘spare’ bedroom will lose 14 per cent of their housing benefit (approximately £12 per week) and those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25 per cent (on average £22 per week).

In the summer, about 100 families will be hit by a £26,000 annual cap on total benefits income, and in October, the universal credits scheme is expected to be introduced, meaning benefits will be paid monthly instead of weekly, and will always go directly to claimants rather than to landlords, for example.

The council’s homeless officers estimate that people seeking help from them could rise by 25 per cent from the current 250 people per month, and the numbers of cases requiring statutory assistance could double from the current 26 per quarter.

Speaking at the council’s equalities advisory forum yesterday, Andy Stevens, head of revenue and benefits, said: “It could lead to rent difficulties, and the difficulties of individuals meeting their rent obligations could cause homelessness issues if someone is evicted for not paying their rent.

“We haven’t seen a huge impact on homelessness services and changes so far, but there are fears the benefits caps, under-occupancy changes and direct payments to claimants under universal credits will lead to an increase in enquiries for assistance for homeless services.”

But Mr Stevens said Govern-ment funding for discretionary housing payments would increase from £88,000 in 2012/13 to 281,000 in 2013/14.

Swindon Council could then offer more short-term assistance for those on housing benefits who are unable to pay their some of their rent.

A report presented to the forum also warns that benefits changes will reduce income and lead to rent and council tax arrears owed by families – potentially placing more children at risk and impacting the council’s finances.

Cabinet member Coun Russell Holland, (Con, St Margaret) said the council could not do much about the changes.

He said that a key problem is there is a shortage of homes for people to downsize into to avoid the ‘bedroom tax’.

He said: “We will consider each case on its own merits and we will take as sympathetic a view as possible on rent arrears, but in the first place, they should apply for discretionary housing payment.”

The council is working to keep residents informed about the changes.

Comments (23)

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7:56am Thu 28 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

Times are difficult, and those with jobs are now taxed so heavily that there's no more scope for fleecing them.

Those on benefits have largely been untouched by the economic recession that happened under Labour's 'economic genius', Gordon Brown, because their vote is now the deciding factor in general elections.

Unfortunately, the country is still borrowing and spending at record levels, despite the constant bleating about 'cuts' from some quarters. THERE IS NO MONEY. We've even lost our AAA rating, which will start to make borrowing more difficult and more expensive.

The country's broke. Done. Finished. The only way any government has any hope of putting things right is to tackle the welfare budget problem.

The days of being able to sit around doing nothing and still have your rent paid, your council tax paid and get a sum of cash dropped into your bank account each month to spend are slowly slipping away.
Times are difficult, and those with jobs are now taxed so heavily that there's no more scope for fleecing them. [p] Those on benefits have largely been untouched by the economic recession that happened under Labour's 'economic genius', Gordon Brown, because their vote is now the deciding factor in general elections. [p] Unfortunately, the country is still borrowing and spending at record levels, despite the constant bleating about 'cuts' from some quarters. THERE IS NO MONEY. We've even lost our AAA rating, which will start to make borrowing more difficult and more expensive. [p] The country's broke. Done. Finished. The only way any government has any hope of putting things right is to tackle the welfare budget problem. [p] The days of being able to sit around doing nothing and still have your rent paid, your council tax paid and get a sum of cash dropped into your bank account each month to spend are slowly slipping away. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

8:18am Thu 28 Feb 13

blahblahblahblah says...

Just as long as I dont find these new tramps sleeping in my stairwell
Just as long as I dont find these new tramps sleeping in my stairwell blahblahblahblah
  • Score: 0

8:22am Thu 28 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

Agree wholeheartedly Tim, but this is 2 massive problems in 1. Firstly as you say, benefits have had to be cut because there just simply isnt any money in the pot to continue to pay them. No matter how many will continue to bleat on, you cant pay what you dont have and we can blame eveyone in sight, but the reality is cuts have to be made.

Add to that this rediculous Universal credit, which like so many things in Government, with the wealthy priviliged politicians completely out of touch with reality, probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but the reality is it will be a nightmare. Those on housing (and council tax) benefit will no longer have it paid direct wekly to the housing provider, but will have it paid directly to their bank accounts monthly. Just try and imagine what that will be like for the thousands of low and no income families who suddenly have all this money paid to them, with the irresponsibility of today's society, many will just spend it on other things and not pay their bills and create massive problems for themselves and of course the housing providers.

For example, 2/3rds of council tenants recieve either full or part benefit and more than half of the income the housing department recieves comes from housing benefit. Rent arrears will go through the roof so a lot less income to pay off the massive loan the tenants have just voted to take on and not forgetting the increased cost of collecting the rent and chasing arrears, court cases, evictions etc.

Homlessness will increase and so will the problems within all social housing as most of the "rent" money will be no doubt spent on alcohol etc increasing the anti social behaviour as well.

This will be a horrendous problem for the council and housing associations alike as well as for pretty much everyone as attitudes and behaviour change. the other thing to remeber is that the homeless budget comes from the council tax payer unlike the council housing budget which is just from rents (ok so most is from the tax payer in benefits), so it wont just be council tenants who are affected but all of us will finish up paying for this fiasco.
Agree wholeheartedly Tim, but this is 2 massive problems in 1. Firstly as you say, benefits have had to be cut because there just simply isnt any money in the pot to continue to pay them. No matter how many will continue to bleat on, you cant pay what you dont have and we can blame eveyone in sight, but the reality is cuts have to be made. Add to that this rediculous Universal credit, which like so many things in Government, with the wealthy priviliged politicians completely out of touch with reality, probably seemed like a good idea on paper, but the reality is it will be a nightmare. Those on housing (and council tax) benefit will no longer have it paid direct wekly to the housing provider, but will have it paid directly to their bank accounts monthly. Just try and imagine what that will be like for the thousands of low and no income families who suddenly have all this money paid to them, with the irresponsibility of today's society, many will just spend it on other things and not pay their bills and create massive problems for themselves and of course the housing providers. For example, 2/3rds of council tenants recieve either full or part benefit and more than half of the income the housing department recieves comes from housing benefit. Rent arrears will go through the roof so a lot less income to pay off the massive loan the tenants have just voted to take on and not forgetting the increased cost of collecting the rent and chasing arrears, court cases, evictions etc. Homlessness will increase and so will the problems within all social housing as most of the "rent" money will be no doubt spent on alcohol etc increasing the anti social behaviour as well. This will be a horrendous problem for the council and housing associations alike as well as for pretty much everyone as attitudes and behaviour change. the other thing to remeber is that the homeless budget comes from the council tax payer unlike the council housing budget which is just from rents (ok so most is from the tax payer in benefits), so it wont just be council tenants who are affected but all of us will finish up paying for this fiasco. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

9:03am Thu 28 Feb 13

Hmmmf says...

house on the hill wrote:
Those on housing (and council tax) benefit will no longer have it paid direct wekly to the housing provider, but will have it paid directly to their bank accounts

You talk about politicians being out of touch with reality, where have you been? Benefits are already paid directly into bank accounts every fortnight and have been for yonks.
[quote][p][bold]house on the hill[/bold] wrote: Those on housing (and council tax) benefit will no longer have it paid direct wekly to the housing provider, but will have it paid directly to their bank accounts[/quote] You talk about politicians being out of touch with reality, where have you been? Benefits are already paid directly into bank accounts every fortnight and have been for yonks. Hmmmf
  • Score: 0

9:09am Thu 28 Feb 13

gina948 says...

Yes I think you're both right Tim and House on the hill. The good old tax payer will get lynched for this after the government realise that they've created a generation of people who have no work ethic and no concept of the word "responsibility"!

I often wonder how someone on benefits can afford to run a car, not work (ever), have kids and all the modern day technoligical luxuries I, as a full time worker, struggles to afford. If they have no concept of money then how on earth do the government seriously expect them to pay for their responsibilities and more over no one can make them homeless due to rent arrears because of their human rights. Lets face it, legally, the argument from their perspective (and not one I agree with may I add) is that how can a governing body place financial responsibility on a vulnerable person? The council wont have a leg to stand on in court unless the laws on rights are reviewed. £££££££'s = tax payer pays more!

I'm sick and tired of paying for other peoples bone idle quality of life when I'm struggling to afford to pay for my own when I work so hard for what little I have.
Yes I think you're both right Tim and House on the hill. The good old tax payer will get lynched for this after the government realise that they've created a generation of people who have no work ethic and no concept of the word "responsibility"! I often wonder how someone on benefits can afford to run a car, not work (ever), have kids and all the modern day technoligical luxuries I, as a full time worker, struggles to afford. If they have no concept of money then how on earth do the government seriously expect them to pay for their responsibilities and more over no one can make them homeless due to rent arrears because of their human rights. Lets face it, legally, the argument from their perspective (and not one I agree with may I add) is that how can a governing body place financial responsibility on a vulnerable person? The council wont have a leg to stand on in court unless the laws on rights are reviewed. £££££££'s = tax payer pays more! I'm sick and tired of paying for other peoples bone idle quality of life when I'm struggling to afford to pay for my own when I work so hard for what little I have. gina948
  • Score: 0

9:12am Thu 28 Feb 13

nigelej says...

Do not forget most of us was brought up in council homes . And it was the this government that sold them of and the councils held on to the money rather than invest in new homes. They will not be saving because they currently pay £320 for my 2 bungalow now if they cannot find me a 1bed then I could find my own and they will pay up to £429 per month that makes sence . Now can I make this point to you benefit bashers my wife works 24 hours 7days a week doing things only trained nurses should do and she gets £58.50 per week for doing that .she like thousands of careers save this country millions of pounds per year . What would happen if all the careers said enough is enough cant do this anymore this country would fall to its knees. So maybe we should pay them the minimum wage then we would not need housing benefit.My last point people moan on here about benefit scrounges yet it was not so long ago this paper reported one of our MPs in this town was claiming £2000 per month for his second home that will pay 6months of my rent .That is truly fair isn't it shout and curse those greedy sods who also want a massive pay increase on top of there expensive All anyone should want is a fair society to live in .
Do not forget most of us was brought up in council homes . And it was the this government that sold them of and the councils held on to the money rather than invest in new homes. They will not be saving because they currently pay £320 for my 2 bungalow now if they cannot find me a 1bed then I could find my own and they will pay up to £429 per month that makes sence . Now can I make this point to you benefit bashers my wife works 24 hours 7days a week doing things only trained nurses should do and she gets £58.50 per week for doing that .she like thousands of careers save this country millions of pounds per year . What would happen if all the careers said enough is enough cant do this anymore this country would fall to its knees. So maybe we should pay them the minimum wage then we would not need housing benefit.My last point people moan on here about benefit scrounges yet it was not so long ago this paper reported one of our MPs in this town was claiming £2000 per month for his second home that will pay 6months of my rent .That is truly fair isn't it shout and curse those greedy sods who also want a massive pay increase on top of there expensive All anyone should want is a fair society to live in . nigelej
  • Score: 0

9:25am Thu 28 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

'Most' of us were not brought up in council houses.

This is all a nonsense, in any case. Very few people will be rendered homeless just because they have to find an extra £15 or so a month. It just means cutting out mobile phone, tobacco, alcohol, takeaways, move from Sky TV to Freeview, etc.

People in work have to make savings and balance their income to their expenditure. Nobody just comes along and hands you an extra £50 when taxes rise, you just have to do what you can and cut back.

The same thing is now happening to those on benefits.
'Most' of us were not brought up in council houses. [p] This is all a nonsense, in any case. Very few people will be rendered homeless just because they have to find an extra £15 or so a month. It just means cutting out mobile phone, tobacco, alcohol, takeaways, move from Sky TV to Freeview, etc. [p] People in work have to make savings and balance their income to their expenditure. Nobody just comes along and hands you an extra £50 when taxes rise, you just have to do what you can and cut back. [p] The same thing is now happening to those on benefits. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

9:55am Thu 28 Feb 13

gina948 says...

Hmmm...well I wasnt brought up in a council house by any means but my grandfather worked down t'pit and my grandparents bought their council house which looks lovely (shame about all her neighbours who are on benefits and their house/gardens are an absolute mess). My grandparents worked hard all their lives and when despite myself being raised on a middle income sector when my mother died in my teens I went on to live with my grandparents in what I would describe as being a very secure and grounded homelife.

Its complete nonsense this blurb about which government sold the housing etc etc. Ultimately its down to who lives in the property not who owns the property as to how the property is kept ie: TIDY!. I live on a council estate and own my property but my neighbours who are with the council dont look after theirs. We live in a society where everyone blames everyone else for whose responsibility it is to look after things and its about to get a lot worse!

Tim, again I agree with you, if our household have had to cut back on everything when we work full time then its more than over due that people on benefits should cut back too. I dont smoke, socialise, have sky or virgin tv, we struggle to afford the bills and I shop at Aldi and cook meals the way my grandmother taught me. I dont even have a phone since someone broke into my car at the weekend and took my handbag that was hidden. I cant afford to even get the window fixed and had to ask my family (of what little I have) to lend me the money!

Nigelej my husband also works in a low paid position working with disabled children full time. The services need people like this and the rewards are few and far between. However, despite the lack of cash flow he's still far more secure than I am as he works in the public sector, has a pension, a union and a support network which is a far cry to what I have. All I have is a job and if I dont like it I know where the door is as far as my manager is concerned.
Ultimately we'll be the ones at the bottom of the working ladder who'll feel the squeeze again and before you ask, no I havent got children because I cant afford them, I dont claim benefits because I earn more than £16k pre tax (not post tax!!) and I havent been abroad for some years!
I do believe I am more than qualified to rant about this considering I dont get pay rises and I'm worse off now than I've ever been! As for your comments on the rich taking the you know what on their expenses, well lets face it, anyone who runs this county/country is corrupt one way or another, how do you think they got to that position? By being honest? Dont think so!
Hmmm...well I wasnt brought up in a council house by any means but my grandfather worked down t'pit and my grandparents bought their council house which looks lovely (shame about all her neighbours who are on benefits and their house/gardens are an absolute mess). My grandparents worked hard all their lives and when despite myself being raised on a middle income sector when my mother died in my teens I went on to live with my grandparents in what I would describe as being a very secure and grounded homelife. Its complete nonsense this blurb about which government sold the housing etc etc. Ultimately its down to who lives in the property not who owns the property as to how the property is kept ie: TIDY!. I live on a council estate and own my property but my neighbours who are with the council dont look after theirs. We live in a society where everyone blames everyone else for whose responsibility it is to look after things and its about to get a lot worse! Tim, again I agree with you, if our household have had to cut back on everything when we work full time then its more than over due that people on benefits should cut back too. I dont smoke, socialise, have sky or virgin tv, we struggle to afford the bills and I shop at Aldi and cook meals the way my grandmother taught me. I dont even have a phone since someone broke into my car at the weekend and took my handbag that was hidden. I cant afford to even get the window fixed and had to ask my family (of what little I have) to lend me the money! Nigelej my husband also works in a low paid position working with disabled children full time. The services need people like this and the rewards are few and far between. However, despite the lack of cash flow he's still far more secure than I am as he works in the public sector, has a pension, a union and a support network which is a far cry to what I have. All I have is a job and if I dont like it I know where the door is as far as my manager is concerned. Ultimately we'll be the ones at the bottom of the working ladder who'll feel the squeeze again and before you ask, no I havent got children because I cant afford them, I dont claim benefits because I earn more than £16k pre tax (not post tax!!) and I havent been abroad for some years! I do believe I am more than qualified to rant about this considering I dont get pay rises and I'm worse off now than I've ever been! As for your comments on the rich taking the you know what on their expenses, well lets face it, anyone who runs this county/country is corrupt one way or another, how do you think they got to that position? By being honest? Dont think so! gina948
  • Score: 0

10:56am Thu 28 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

nigelej wrote:
Do not forget most of us was brought up in council homes . And it was the this government that sold them of and the councils held on to the money rather than invest in new homes. They will not be saving because they currently pay £320 for my 2 bungalow now if they cannot find me a 1bed then I could find my own and they will pay up to £429 per month that makes sence . Now can I make this point to you benefit bashers my wife works 24 hours 7days a week doing things only trained nurses should do and she gets £58.50 per week for doing that .she like thousands of careers save this country millions of pounds per year . What would happen if all the careers said enough is enough cant do this anymore this country would fall to its knees. So maybe we should pay them the minimum wage then we would not need housing benefit.My last point people moan on here about benefit scrounges yet it was not so long ago this paper reported one of our MPs in this town was claiming £2000 per month for his second home that will pay 6months of my rent .That is truly fair isn't it shout and curse those greedy sods who also want a massive pay increase on top of there expensive All anyone should want is a fair society to live in .
Yes, nigelj, a more 'fair' society is definitely something to work towards.

But taxing people who work 45 hours a week to the point they can't afford their own children and end up bringing home less money than is simply handed to a mother of 11 who does absolutely nothing, and has never worked, is quite blatantly very UNfair.

If one good thing comes from the economic crisis, it will be that our horrendously UNfair welfare state system will be forced to change and adapt. We simply do not have the money or resouces to continue with this deluded idea that everyone can enjoy a good standard of living and have as many kids as they like without ever having to do a day's work to pay for any of it.
[quote][p][bold]nigelej[/bold] wrote: Do not forget most of us was brought up in council homes . And it was the this government that sold them of and the councils held on to the money rather than invest in new homes. They will not be saving because they currently pay £320 for my 2 bungalow now if they cannot find me a 1bed then I could find my own and they will pay up to £429 per month that makes sence . Now can I make this point to you benefit bashers my wife works 24 hours 7days a week doing things only trained nurses should do and she gets £58.50 per week for doing that .she like thousands of careers save this country millions of pounds per year . What would happen if all the careers said enough is enough cant do this anymore this country would fall to its knees. So maybe we should pay them the minimum wage then we would not need housing benefit.My last point people moan on here about benefit scrounges yet it was not so long ago this paper reported one of our MPs in this town was claiming £2000 per month for his second home that will pay 6months of my rent .That is truly fair isn't it shout and curse those greedy sods who also want a massive pay increase on top of there expensive All anyone should want is a fair society to live in .[/p][/quote]Yes, nigelj, a more 'fair' society is definitely something to work towards. [p] But taxing people who work 45 hours a week to the point they can't afford their own children and end up bringing home less money than is simply handed to a mother of 11 who does absolutely nothing, and has never worked, is quite blatantly very UNfair. [p] If one good thing comes from the economic crisis, it will be that our horrendously UNfair welfare state system will be forced to change and adapt. We simply do not have the money or resouces to continue with this deluded idea that everyone can enjoy a good standard of living and have as many kids as they like without ever having to do a day's work to pay for any of it. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

11:33am Thu 28 Feb 13

gina948 says...

Hear Hear!!! Well said Tim! We're all saying it, what I want to know is; When will anyone in power listen?
Hear Hear!!! Well said Tim! We're all saying it, what I want to know is; When will anyone in power listen? gina948
  • Score: 0

12:10pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Russell Holland says...

I believe in taxpayer funded assistance to help people in need but it has to be fair and it has to be affordable. The present welfare system has aspects which are unfair and it is not affordable.

Many people on benefits do work but are on low incomes and many more would like to work but cannot because of health issues or because they struggle to find a job. Yes some people don't have the right attitude and yes there is waste but I believe the majority of people genuinely need benefits. A lot of people on benefits go on and off benefits because they have temporary work.

Specifically when it comes to housing - it is correct that the more significant increase on housing benefit has come from housing benefit to pay for private rents rather than housing benefit for Council house tenants because Council house rents are 50-60% of market rents. There does need to be a wider debate about who should be eligible for a Council house and this is being looked at currently as the Council is developing a tenancy strategy.

So far the Government has imposed a total cap on how much can be claimed on benefits, it is looking at incapacity benefit again, it has reduced Council house benefit, it has increased the personal allowance which will benefit people on low incomes and it is planning to simplify the system through universal credit. Whatever the personal opinions about whether the reforms are the right ones - the Government is acting.

Personally I think there should be exemptions for the underoccupation rules for people with disabilities or caring responsibilities or other exceptional circumstances.

This debate is an important one - it's not fair to make unfair generalisations about people on benefits. The debate is an important one but it has to be a responsible one too.
I believe in taxpayer funded assistance to help people in need but it has to be fair and it has to be affordable. The present welfare system has aspects which are unfair and it is not affordable. Many people on benefits do work but are on low incomes and many more would like to work but cannot because of health issues or because they struggle to find a job. Yes some people don't have the right attitude and yes there is waste but I believe the majority of people genuinely need benefits. A lot of people on benefits go on and off benefits because they have temporary work. Specifically when it comes to housing - it is correct that the more significant increase on housing benefit has come from housing benefit to pay for private rents rather than housing benefit for Council house tenants because Council house rents are 50-60% of market rents. There does need to be a wider debate about who should be eligible for a Council house and this is being looked at currently as the Council is developing a tenancy strategy. So far the Government has imposed a total cap on how much can be claimed on benefits, it is looking at incapacity benefit again, it has reduced Council house benefit, it has increased the personal allowance which will benefit people on low incomes and it is planning to simplify the system through universal credit. Whatever the personal opinions about whether the reforms are the right ones - the Government is acting. Personally I think there should be exemptions for the underoccupation rules for people with disabilities or caring responsibilities or other exceptional circumstances. This debate is an important one - it's not fair to make unfair generalisations about people on benefits. The debate is an important one but it has to be a responsible one too. Russell Holland
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

@Russell Holland: all very nice and all very much 'on message'.

But, back in reality, your government has singularly failed to achieve any reduction in the nation's welfare bill - in fact, it's worse than that, it's still rising. Unsurprising, given the exponential manner in which the fundamentally flawed system is doomed to fail.

The welfare system is now unfair. Yes, a lot of people who receive benefits do work, and more power to them, but a millions do absolutely nothing - and have no intention of doing anything:


According to analysis by the Office for National Statistics of the Labour Force Survey, 11.4 per cent of the entire workforce is living in workless households. Six million Britons are living in homes where no one has a job.

The number of households where no one has ever had a job totals 340,000.


Nobody, but NOBODY, is trying to penalise, punish or remove help from people who *genuinely* need it. That is a straw man argument and one which does you no favours. In trying to paint people who are concerned about the unaffordable welfare budget as 'nasty' (or even wrong), you merely enrage taxpayers even further.

It is not working people and the taxpayers who are unfair. Indeed, without them, and the money stolen from them under duress, millions of people would simply cease to exist.
@Russell Holland: all very nice and all very much 'on message'. [p] But, back in reality, your government has singularly failed to achieve any reduction in the nation's welfare bill - in fact, it's worse than that, it's still rising. Unsurprising, given the exponential manner in which the fundamentally flawed system is doomed to fail. [p] The welfare system is now unfair. Yes, a lot of people who receive benefits do work, and more power to them, but a millions do absolutely nothing - and have no intention of doing anything: [p] [quote] According to analysis by the Office for National Statistics of the Labour Force Survey, 11.4 per cent of the entire workforce is living in workless households. Six million Britons are living in homes where no one has a job. [p] The number of households where no one has ever had a job totals 340,000. [/quote] [p] Nobody, but NOBODY, is trying to penalise, punish or remove help from people who *genuinely* need it. That is a straw man argument and one which does you no favours. In trying to paint people who are concerned about the unaffordable welfare budget as 'nasty' (or even wrong), you merely enrage taxpayers even further. [p] It is not working people and the taxpayers who are unfair. Indeed, without them, and the money stolen from them under duress, millions of people would simply cease to exist. Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

1:32pm Thu 28 Feb 13

StillPav says...

@Russell Holland

“Specifically when it comes to housing - it is correct that the more significant increase on housing benefit has come from housing benefit to pay for private rents rather than housing benefit for Council house tenants because Council house rents are 50-60% of market rents.”

This is an interesting point Russell. We often hear about Tesco and other large supermarkets driving down the price they pay producers for food, milk etc. Tesco can do this as they have the weight of the market behind them.

Given that the local authority must be one of the larger players in the private rental market, why doesn’t the council use its size and influence to drive down private sector rents? Tell all landlords that you’re current the rent you’re prepared to pay by 25%. They can like it or lump it. The rest of the private rental market will not be able to pick up the slack so landlords will have to concede.
@Russell Holland “Specifically when it comes to housing - it is correct that the more significant increase on housing benefit has come from housing benefit to pay for private rents rather than housing benefit for Council house tenants because Council house rents are 50-60% of market rents.” This is an interesting point Russell. We often hear about Tesco and other large supermarkets driving down the price they pay producers for food, milk etc. Tesco can do this as they have the weight of the market behind them. Given that the local authority must be one of the larger players in the private rental market, why doesn’t the council use its size and influence to drive down private sector rents? Tell all landlords that you’re current the rent you’re prepared to pay by 25%. They can like it or lump it. The rest of the private rental market will not be able to pick up the slack so landlords will have to concede. StillPav
  • Score: 0

1:40pm Thu 28 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

""Hmmmf says...
9:03am Thu 28 Feb 13


house on the hill wrote:
Those on housing (and council tax) benefit will no longer have it paid direct wekly to the housing provider, but will have it paid directly to their bank accounts

You talk about politicians being out of touch with reality, where have you been? Benefits are already paid directly into bank accounts every fortnight and have been for yonks.”

Council tenants have never had their housing benefit paid to them it has always been paid direct to the council, so I have been here all the time, where are you living?
""Hmmmf says... 9:03am Thu 28 Feb 13 house on the hill wrote: Those on housing (and council tax) benefit will no longer have it paid direct wekly to the housing provider, but will have it paid directly to their bank accounts You talk about politicians being out of touch with reality, where have you been? Benefits are already paid directly into bank accounts every fortnight and have been for yonks.” Council tenants have never had their housing benefit paid to them it has always been paid direct to the council, so I have been here all the time, where are you living? house on the hill
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Thu 28 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

""""nigelej says...
9:12am Thu 28 Feb 13

Do not forget most of us was brought up in council homes . And it was the this government that sold them of and the councils held on to the money rather than invest in new homes"""

Not true Nigel, the council only got to keep 25% of the money with the rest going to central government, which was the problem as they didnt have enough to build a replacement for each one they sold. That was a Govt mess up and for once not down to the Council.
""""nigelej says... 9:12am Thu 28 Feb 13 Do not forget most of us was brought up in council homes . And it was the this government that sold them of and the councils held on to the money rather than invest in new homes""" Not true Nigel, the council only got to keep 25% of the money with the rest going to central government, which was the problem as they didnt have enough to build a replacement for each one they sold. That was a Govt mess up and for once not down to the Council. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

2:02pm Thu 28 Feb 13

house on the hill says...

"""Russell Holland says...
12:10pm Thu 28 Feb 13

I believe in taxpayer funded assistance to help people in need but it has to be fair and it has to be affordable. The present welfare system has aspects which are unfair and it is not affordable.

Many people on benefits do work but are on low incomes and many more would like to work but cannot because of health issues or because they struggle to find a job. Yes some people don't have the right attitude and yes there is waste but I believe the majority of people genuinely need benefits. A lot of people on benefits go on and off benefits because they have temporary work.

Specifically when it comes to housing - it is correct that the more significant increase on housing benefit has come from housing benefit to pay for private rents rather than housing benefit for Council house tenants because Council house rents are 50-60% of market rents. There does need to be a wider debate about who should be eligible for a Council house and this is being looked at currently as the Council is developing a tenancy strategy.

So far the Government has imposed a total cap on how much can be claimed on benefits, it is looking at incapacity benefit again, it has reduced Council house benefit, it has increased the personal allowance which will benefit people on low incomes and it is planning to simplify the system through universal credit. Whatever the personal opinions about whether the reforms are the right ones - the Government is acting.

Personally I think there should be exemptions for the underoccupation rules for people with disabilities or caring responsibilities or other exceptional circumstances.

This debate is an important one - it's not fair to make unfair generalisations about people on benefits. The debate is an important one but it has to be a responsible one too.”""""


Russell I have always agreed that those who need it through no fault of their own or who really are doing the best they can to get themselves out of benefits should have our help, it is the word "need" that we seem to disagree on. To me anyone who can afford to pay private sector rents doesnt "need" a council house and yet as we know there are millions country wide who have just that. Council housing is subsidised to keep rents low and if someone no longer qualifies for one they shouldnt have one the same way if you no longer qualify for any other benefit on the welfare system it stops. This shouldt be a part of your "strategy" it should be a fact.

As Gina says tere are those on benefit with a much better lifestyle thatn those om low incomes working all the hours god gives and that aslo has to stop. No one out of work should be better off than someone who works, that just breeds that attitudes out there of "why should I work when i can have a nice life paid for by others for doing absolutely nothing.

As for tarring all with the same brush, most dont but the reality again as Gina says is that its the attitude of the occupant and not the housing provider that is important and you can drive around any council estate and they will be more "untidy" then private estates so there is only one explanation for that. Attitudes are the key as is reality of the econimic situation we are in whoevers fault it is

Change the system and fast, look after those who truly need it and make sure that lazyness or breeding like rabbits with no visible means of support doesnt pay.
"""Russell Holland says... 12:10pm Thu 28 Feb 13 I believe in taxpayer funded assistance to help people in need but it has to be fair and it has to be affordable. The present welfare system has aspects which are unfair and it is not affordable. Many people on benefits do work but are on low incomes and many more would like to work but cannot because of health issues or because they struggle to find a job. Yes some people don't have the right attitude and yes there is waste but I believe the majority of people genuinely need benefits. A lot of people on benefits go on and off benefits because they have temporary work. Specifically when it comes to housing - it is correct that the more significant increase on housing benefit has come from housing benefit to pay for private rents rather than housing benefit for Council house tenants because Council house rents are 50-60% of market rents. There does need to be a wider debate about who should be eligible for a Council house and this is being looked at currently as the Council is developing a tenancy strategy. So far the Government has imposed a total cap on how much can be claimed on benefits, it is looking at incapacity benefit again, it has reduced Council house benefit, it has increased the personal allowance which will benefit people on low incomes and it is planning to simplify the system through universal credit. Whatever the personal opinions about whether the reforms are the right ones - the Government is acting. Personally I think there should be exemptions for the underoccupation rules for people with disabilities or caring responsibilities or other exceptional circumstances. This debate is an important one - it's not fair to make unfair generalisations about people on benefits. The debate is an important one but it has to be a responsible one too.”"""" Russell I have always agreed that those who need it through no fault of their own or who really are doing the best they can to get themselves out of benefits should have our help, it is the word "need" that we seem to disagree on. To me anyone who can afford to pay private sector rents doesnt "need" a council house and yet as we know there are millions country wide who have just that. Council housing is subsidised to keep rents low and if someone no longer qualifies for one they shouldnt have one the same way if you no longer qualify for any other benefit on the welfare system it stops. This shouldt be a part of your "strategy" it should be a fact. As Gina says tere are those on benefit with a much better lifestyle thatn those om low incomes working all the hours god gives and that aslo has to stop. No one out of work should be better off than someone who works, that just breeds that attitudes out there of "why should I work when i can have a nice life paid for by others for doing absolutely nothing. As for tarring all with the same brush, most dont but the reality again as Gina says is that its the attitude of the occupant and not the housing provider that is important and you can drive around any council estate and they will be more "untidy" then private estates so there is only one explanation for that. Attitudes are the key as is reality of the econimic situation we are in whoevers fault it is Change the system and fast, look after those who truly need it and make sure that lazyness or breeding like rabbits with no visible means of support doesnt pay. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

3:06pm Thu 28 Feb 13

nigelej says...

Thank you to those that responded to my post .ANd I understand where you are coming from GIna especially you.But I note we have some knocking on about TVA sky etc.Anyone is welcome to my home to see I do not have sky we do not have mobiles.IHave one pair of boots.The government says we get£26000 per year simply not true not even half of that. Again quite happy to prove that.My dad died when he was 63 he worked all is life but never got to get his pension bless him. Now I for sure want make it to 60 so I want be getting mine either. so what little I get now I think is justified I have paid in thousands to the government. My wife worked. At the hospital doing nights for less that £10,000per year . So we do know but now she looks after me for £58 per week she saves along with others millions to this country do the careers that do this not deserve more.I also note no one is complaint about the mp who claims £2000 per month expenses for his second
Home .My 3 boys were brought up in a council home on benefits and I'm very proud to say they have never been out of work and claimed nothing .For the knockers I prey and hope you never fall on hard times because then you will see its not what you think it is and remember you never know what's round the corner.I had my own home and after a massive stroke at the age of 40 there was no support for me and I lost my business my home and my first wife .And before anyone says it I have never smocked ,I don't drink and I'm not over weight. This government do have the ability to find out those that can't work and should work but they seam to afraid to do that
.
Thank you to those that responded to my post .ANd I understand where you are coming from GIna especially you.But I note we have some knocking on about TVA sky etc.Anyone is welcome to my home to see I do not have sky we do not have mobiles.IHave one pair of boots.The government says we get£26000 per year simply not true not even half of that. Again quite happy to prove that.My dad died when he was 63 he worked all is life but never got to get his pension bless him. Now I for sure want make it to 60 so I want be getting mine either. so what little I get now I think is justified I have paid in thousands to the government. My wife worked. At the hospital doing nights for less that £10,000per year . So we do know but now she looks after me for £58 per week she saves along with others millions to this country do the careers that do this not deserve more.I also note no one is complaint about the mp who claims £2000 per month expenses for his second Home .My 3 boys were brought up in a council home on benefits and I'm very proud to say they have never been out of work and claimed nothing .For the knockers I prey and hope you never fall on hard times because then you will see its not what you think it is and remember you never know what's round the corner.I had my own home and after a massive stroke at the age of 40 there was no support for me and I lost my business my home and my first wife .And before anyone says it I have never smocked ,I don't drink and I'm not over weight. This government do have the ability to find out those that can't work and should work but they seam to afraid to do that . nigelej
  • Score: 0

3:21pm Thu 28 Feb 13

gina948 says...

Thank you House on the Hill! Your comments and support are much appreciated.

Russell, I read your feedback and yes I agree there are genuine people with genuine problems and as a nation we should be able to address this fairly. The problem is that the benefit system was created to do just this but sadly we are a divided nation of people who are honest and people who are not and that means that while ever there are people who are not honest we will have people who take adavntage of what's available.

I've also noticed that the means tested benefits strategy only works if those doing the means testing have any common sense and I have heard some extremely shocking stories of the decisions made to allow or disallow, as it works both ways, the rights to a claim. Its all based on opnion as to whether a person qualifies.

I definately believe that council housing should be for those who "need" it and they shouldnt be allowed to just sit and roost! That would in turn free up a heck of a lot of housing for genuine cases. The cost of rent for private landlords does need to be reviewed however its usually based on the cost of a mortgage but, as with anything, if the prices can be capped then all the better for all those who cant get onto the housing ladder.

People must read these comments and think I've got a nerve to be of the opinons I have but ultimately, I havent had it easy in my own life but I never sat back and waited for someone to pay for it. I got off my backside and went to work and in doing so I have taken pride in my life and what I own. My grandmother always said, that while she was raising three children, looking after her convalescent parents, running a home and feeding my grandfather who worked shifts at the pits she never got a penny from the state. They worked hard and got nothing because there was nothing. She's a wonderful person and thats how I aspire to be. I think there's a lesson there for a lot of people!
Thank you House on the Hill! Your comments and support are much appreciated. Russell, I read your feedback and yes I agree there are genuine people with genuine problems and as a nation we should be able to address this fairly. The problem is that the benefit system was created to do just this but sadly we are a divided nation of people who are honest and people who are not and that means that while ever there are people who are not honest we will have people who take adavntage of what's available. I've also noticed that the means tested benefits strategy only works if those doing the means testing have any common sense and I have heard some extremely shocking stories of the decisions made to allow or disallow, as it works both ways, the rights to a claim. Its all based on opnion as to whether a person qualifies. I definately believe that council housing should be for those who "need" it and they shouldnt be allowed to just sit and roost! That would in turn free up a heck of a lot of housing for genuine cases. The cost of rent for private landlords does need to be reviewed however its usually based on the cost of a mortgage but, as with anything, if the prices can be capped then all the better for all those who cant get onto the housing ladder. People must read these comments and think I've got a nerve to be of the opinons I have but ultimately, I havent had it easy in my own life but I never sat back and waited for someone to pay for it. I got off my backside and went to work and in doing so I have taken pride in my life and what I own. My grandmother always said, that while she was raising three children, looking after her convalescent parents, running a home and feeding my grandfather who worked shifts at the pits she never got a penny from the state. They worked hard and got nothing because there was nothing. She's a wonderful person and thats how I aspire to be. I think there's a lesson there for a lot of people! gina948
  • Score: 0

3:36pm Thu 28 Feb 13

gina948 says...

Nigelej I am sorry to hear of your hard times. There is no fruit for those who are genuinely suffering. I too know of people who have been as unfortunate as yourselves and again I really do think that there should be assistance for people who really do need it. I have suffered redundancies and had the threat of loosing my home and life can be a financial struggle for me and my husband too but for me I just think I dont need materialism. Not that this helps when you're loosing everything you've worked hard for and nothing can stop that. We didnt buy presents for anyone for xmas this year because we felt the money wasnt worth the hardship so we baked instead! The response was brilliant so from now on xmas wont be about materialism. Keep your chin up :)
Nigelej I am sorry to hear of your hard times. There is no fruit for those who are genuinely suffering. I too know of people who have been as unfortunate as yourselves and again I really do think that there should be assistance for people who really do need it. I have suffered redundancies and had the threat of loosing my home and life can be a financial struggle for me and my husband too but for me I just think I dont need materialism. Not that this helps when you're loosing everything you've worked hard for and nothing can stop that. We didnt buy presents for anyone for xmas this year because we felt the money wasnt worth the hardship so we baked instead! The response was brilliant so from now on xmas wont be about materialism. Keep your chin up :) gina948
  • Score: 0

4:09pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Sashstaff says...

Many of the people most affected by the welfare reform, in reality, are the very poor, sick and disabled. Many are facing weeks/months without any income whatsoever that's to the Government's beloved ATOS.
All the while, the breeding machines continue to get more money for every sprog squeezed out!
IMO, nobody on an above average income should get any benefits, no child benefit, not even DLA, these are where the cuts should fall first, millionaires still get their £100 a week DLA and winter fuel payments etc. Not on whilst others are being left destitute!
Universal Credit is a disaster waiting to happen, people either won't manage to budget effective or may be unable to, end up in debt, in the court system etc. It will probably end up costing more than it saves.
Bedroom tax is pointless for as long as it doesn't effect pensioners and there are 1/2 bed properties are unavailable.

And you probably won't end up with a homeless person in your stairwell because they are very likely to be disabled and unable to climb the stairs!
Many of the people most affected by the welfare reform, in reality, are the very poor, sick and disabled. Many are facing weeks/months without any income whatsoever that's to the Government's beloved ATOS. All the while, the breeding machines continue to get more money for every sprog squeezed out! IMO, nobody on an above average income should get any benefits, no child benefit, not even DLA, these are where the cuts should fall first, millionaires still get their £100 a week DLA and winter fuel payments etc. Not on whilst others are being left destitute! Universal Credit is a disaster waiting to happen, people either won't manage to budget effective or may be unable to, end up in debt, in the court system etc. It will probably end up costing more than it saves. Bedroom tax is pointless for as long as it doesn't effect pensioners and there are 1/2 bed properties are unavailable. And you probably won't end up with a homeless person in your stairwell because they are very likely to be disabled and unable to climb the stairs! Sashstaff
  • Score: 0

4:42pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Tim Newroman says...

@Sashstaff: you're saying the same thing as the rest of us... refine and improve the welfare state such that those in most need actually receive MORE money to aid them when they need it most, while those who are exploiting the system - often specifically in order NOT to work - get routed out and their income sharply reduced.

Our welfare state system urgently needs to redefine itself and get back to the original intent and purpose.

And, let's not forget, when it was conceived and introduced in the 1940s and 50s, we were not having to pay for millions of people who've never contributed a penny until their arrival. In 1951 there were around 2 million people resident in the UK who were not born here. By 2011 that was 12 million.

Hardly any wonder there's no money left for the most deserving cases. Why did our politicians think we could pay for the whole world to have children, receive health care treatment and have a free house?
@Sashstaff: you're saying the same thing as the rest of us... refine and improve the welfare state such that those in most need actually receive MORE money to aid them when they need it most, while those who are exploiting the system - often specifically in order NOT to work - get routed out and their income sharply reduced. [p] Our welfare state system urgently needs to redefine itself and get back to the original intent and purpose. [p] And, let's not forget, when it was conceived and introduced in the 1940s and 50s, we were not having to pay for millions of people who've never contributed a penny until their arrival. In 1951 there were around 2 million people resident in the UK who were not born here. By 2011 that was 12 million. [p] Hardly any wonder there's no money left for the most deserving cases. Why did our politicians think we could pay for the whole world to have children, receive health care treatment and have a free house? Tim Newroman
  • Score: 0

10:08pm Thu 14 Mar 13

ob1ob1 says...

One of they key areas that i think the council should be looking at is how much money is spent in or on services provided from the social / private sector, and for one example housing the homeless and emergency accommodation. a large proportion of the housing budget is spent on homelessness and in particular , paying to re-house people in an emergency situation. correct me please if im wrong, but if you become homeless in Swindon and are eligible... you will be allocated temporary accommodation, usually in bed and breakfast, or salvation army, or a private hostel at a much higher cost than if you were in standard accommodation. surely the council can see how expensive this is? the answer is with them, as they are the biggest landlords in the town and have the largest housing stock. it should be standard practice to allocate a very small proportion of housing stock to this area. the loss in rent from allocating 10 or so homes would surely be way offset by the reduction in expenditure on private accommodation. There would be an initial cost of adapting suitable properties to meet regulation. but the cost would soon be outweighed by the savings even over a 1 or 2 year cycle. if the council were not prepared to manage the accommodation, it could be outsourced, but that is going extremes i think. the fact is that the approach to homelessness from a financial point is that we almost assume that it is a temporary thing and when budget is spent on emergency situations and involves the private sector, you can guarantee it will be expensive. this is just one area... you only need to see how much it costs to house a family in need for up to 3 months in a bed and breakfast to see the cost implication. the same idea could be applied in social care where millions are spent on private sector services. one of the best investments if you have the funds is to a private nursing home, where a large proportion of the income is practically guaranteed by local authority. hence the amount of non resident owners of nursing homes in the borough who reside in london and the home counties and see these purely as investments supported by public money.
One of they key areas that i think the council should be looking at is how much money is spent in or on services provided from the social / private sector, and for one example housing the homeless and emergency accommodation. a large proportion of the housing budget is spent on homelessness and in particular , paying to re-house people in an emergency situation. correct me please if im wrong, but if you become homeless in Swindon and are eligible... you will be allocated temporary accommodation, usually in bed and breakfast, or salvation army, or a private hostel at a much higher cost than if you were in standard accommodation. surely the council can see how expensive this is? the answer is with them, as they are the biggest landlords in the town and have the largest housing stock. it should be standard practice to allocate a very small proportion of housing stock to this area. the loss in rent from allocating 10 or so homes would surely be way offset by the reduction in expenditure on private accommodation. There would be an initial cost of adapting suitable properties to meet regulation. but the cost would soon be outweighed by the savings even over a 1 or 2 year cycle. if the council were not prepared to manage the accommodation, it could be outsourced, but that is going extremes i think. the fact is that the approach to homelessness from a financial point is that we almost assume that it is a temporary thing and when budget is spent on emergency situations and involves the private sector, you can guarantee it will be expensive. this is just one area... you only need to see how much it costs to house a family in need for up to 3 months in a bed and breakfast to see the cost implication. the same idea could be applied in social care where millions are spent on private sector services. one of the best investments if you have the funds is to a private nursing home, where a large proportion of the income is practically guaranteed by local authority. hence the amount of non resident owners of nursing homes in the borough who reside in london and the home counties and see these purely as investments supported by public money. ob1ob1
  • Score: 0

10:14pm Thu 14 Mar 13

ob1ob1 says...

apart from that... please ask our mayor to take example from wootten bassett mayor and that would probably save around 100k a year in itself :-)
apart from that... please ask our mayor to take example from wootten bassett mayor and that would probably save around 100k a year in itself :-) ob1ob1
  • Score: 0

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