£11bn of benefits cuts 'will push many households over the edge'

An £11bn cut in Britain's welfare spend will hit struggling families and "trigger a spiral of debt, eviction and homelessness", according to the housing charity, Shelter.

While George Osborne talked of a "fair and responsible benefit system", his chief thrust was to introduce measures to control the amount of money spent on benefits, including a controversial cap on housing benefit.

"The vast majority of housing benefit claimants are either pensioners, those with disabilities, people caring for a relative or hardworking people on low incomes," pointed out Shelter's chief executive, Campbell Robb.

He said that even at current levels, nearly half of local housing allowance claimants are making up a shortfall of almost £100 a month to meet their rent. "If this support is ripped out suddenly from under their feet, it will push many households over the edge," Mr Robb warned.

Under the Chancellor's proposals, the maximum housing benefit allowance per property size will be capped; those who are expected to work will see their receipt of payments time-limited and restrictions will be introduced for those of working age in the social rented sector whose property is larger than their household size warrants.

The changes could force people out of their homes, warned Liz Peace, the chief executive of the British Property Federation. "In introducing a cap on housing expenditure, it is vital that claimants in more expensive areas of the country are not sidelined and forced out of homes they have lived in for years," she said. "This would create more problems than it would solve, as it is vital that we do not end up creating more ghettos or forcing people to travel miles to work."

Mr Osborne claimed the cuts are essential to reduce a welfare bill that has risen 45 per cent in the past 10 years – climbing £60bn. He warned that the bill will rise to £192bn by 2015 if no action is taken. His solution? As well as the cap on housing benefit, he introduced a three-year freeze on child benefit (see below for details), reduced tax credit payments to high-earning families and he will index-link benefits to the newer, inflation measure consumer prices index (CPI) instead of the older retail prices index (RPI) as it is currently.

The latter move alone will save an estimated £6bn by the end of the Parliament but it will cost the average jobseekers' allowance claimant £1 a week, according to anti-poverty charity, the Child Poverty Action Group. RPI is currently at 5.5 per cent and CPI is 3.4 per cent.

Other family benefits are also being cut. The £500 one-off Sure Start Maternity Grant – aimed at helping low-income families – will be restricted to a mother's first child only from next April. Meanwhile, the £190 Health in Pregnancy Grant – introduced last year to encourage mothers to buy healthier food – will be scrapped from January 2011.

The changes, along with the three-year freeze on child tax credits, will force more mothers to return to work quickly, said Ann Robinson, consumer policy director at uSwitch.com.

"These cuts will place family finances under even more pressure at a vulnerable time," she said. "The high cost of living coupled with the costs of running a household means that many parents today need two incomes to just get by. The decisions the Government has taken today will make it a lot harder for a mother to have the choice of staying at home."

Those claiming disability living allowance have also been targeted. The Government will introduce what it terms "objective medical assessments" from 2013-14.

This was attacked by the disability charity, Scope. "It appears to be designed purely to reduce the number of people eligible for this support," said Richard Hawkes, the chief executive of Scope.

"Disability living allowance is not a benefit, but a basic recognition that it is more expensive to live as a disabled person in our society."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
business
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Sport
Germany's Andre Greipel crosses the finish line to win the sixth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 194 kilometers (120.5 miles) with start in Arras and finish in Reims, France
tour de franceGerman champion achieves sixth Tour stage win in Reims
Extras
indybest
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    JQuery Developer (JQuery, C#, front-end, JQuery, UI, Tomcat)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organ...

    Linux Systems Administrator - UNIX, Linux, Shell, Bash

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - UNI...

    UNIX Systems Administrator - Oracle DBA, UNIX, Scripting

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Systems Administrator - Orac...

    Linux Systems Administrator - (Support, Linux, UNIX)

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Linux Systems Administrator - (Su...

    Day In a Page

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

    Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

    Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
    Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

    Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

    Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
    10 best girls' summer dresses

    Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

    Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
    Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

    Westminster’s dark secret

    Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
    Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

    Naked censorship?

    The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

    As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
    Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

    Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil