The Chief Executive of Citizens Advice has warned that reforms to Housing Benefit “cannot be done safely” without urgent action to increase the availability of affordable homes, following Court of Appeal rulings on two of the Government’s welfare reforms recently.
Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said:
“The Government’s changes to Housing Benefit cannot be done safely without first sorting out our woeful stock of affordable housing. Ninety six per cent of people affected by size restrictions have no smaller home available to move into in order to avoid the extra cost. At the end of 2013 one in five Citizens Advice clients affected by new under-occupancy rules was in housing arrears.
“For many sick and disabled people an extra room in their house is vital to them being able to live independently. Alongside changes to Housing Benefit, the Work Capability Assessment is failing far too many sick and disabled people and is causing anxiety and stress as a result.
“Paying for housing is often the area where welfare reform and the struggle to make ends meet really hit hardest. Social housing arrears problems reported to Citizens Advice Bureaux have gone up 13 per cent in one year and have increased in every part of the country. Without tackling the shortage of affordable homes, getting the Housing Benefit bill down by simply charging a small group of people is unfair and risks the wellbeing of the people affected.”
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