Burnley housing association demands rethink on benefit changes

SUPPORT: Accent managing director Claire Stone (S)
SUPPORT: Accent managing director Claire Stone (S)

Burnley housing association Accent Foundation is backing a national campaign to call on ministers to rethink the proposed changes to housing benefit.

The campaign, part of Welfare Action Week, is being organised by the National Housing Federation, the trade body for housing associations, to raise awareness of the harsh reality of the proposed welfare changes, which could push many people into financial hardship.

Hundreds of housing associations across the UK are backing the campaign.

Under the Welfare Reform Bill, the proposal is to cut benefit for tenants who have a spare bedroom in their homes, even if they have lived in their home for years.

More than 120,000 people living in social rented housing in the North-West who are of working age and claim Housing Benefit, could lose around £670 a year.

There are also plans to scrap tenants’ rights to have their housing benefit paid directly to their landlord, and to cap the overall amount of benefit that can be claimed.

Removing this way to pay rent may result in tenants getting more into debt and arrears, and families with capped benefits may find they have to move away from their families and communities to avoid getting into debt, as the cap does not take into account the variation of housing costs across the country.

Accent Foundation managing director Claire Stone said: “We take the welfare of our residents very seriously and are concerned these measures could cause a great deal of hardship for our residents around Burnley and the North-West.

“Should the changes go ahead, we will be supporting our residents in the best way we can so, wherever possible, they are not forced out of the homes and communities they have known and grown up in.”