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NHF reports housing cuts

September 08 2010
Up to 200,000 people are at risk of homelessness, says Federation

The coalition government's plans to make cuts in housing benefit may put up to 200,000 people at risk of homelessness, according to the National Housing Federation (NHF).

The NHF, which represents housing organisations across Britain, claimed that people living in London and the SouthEast would be hit hardest and estimated that up to 34,000 people could lose their homes. Nationally, the group claims the overall number of people faced with homelessness could be as many as 750,000.

In measures announced by chancellor George Osborne at the end of July, people who claim Jobseeker's Allowance for more than a year would have their benefit payments cut by 10 per cent. The NHF believes that this reduction will lease to vastly increased numbers of evictions - especially in more expensive areas like Greater London.

NHF chief executive David Orr said: "Ministers have said consistently since taking office that they will do their utmost to protect the most vulnerable - and yet the introduction of the housing benefit caps will clearly lead to an onslaught on some of the most vulnerable groups in society.

"The changes could see hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people fall into debt, forced out of their homes and neighbourhoods and crammed into overcrowded ghettos. Many others will simply become homeless."

The NHF has called for the government to set up a poverty commission to ensure that any cuts they make to the benefits system will not damage the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

The government believes that a massive overhaul of Britain's welfare state is needed to restore 'fairness' to the system and to save money as part of the chancellor's recent austerity budget.

But a spokeswoman from the Department of Work and Pensions disputed the NHF's findings: "This isn't about homelessness - if anyone getting Local Housing allowance needs to find more appropriate accommodation, a third of properties on the market will still be available to them, and we've tripled our discretionary housing payments to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable.

"There is an urgent need to reform housing benefit and it is right that we return fairness to a system that is out of control."