Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme
Big changes looming for Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) scheme

This week brings a fundamental change in welfare support for struggling homeowners. For more than 70 years, homeowners, who have low incomes and who receive certain qualifying benefits, have been able to claim support from the government, through Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI).

However, from 6 April 2018 this support is changing. Rather than being paid as a free benefit, SMI will now be paid as a loan and any money claimed from this date onwards will one day need … Read more

7 things to consider when communicating about welfare

You may have seen mine and Paul’s previous blogs about our campaign to soften public attitudes towards welfare, so that political parties will feel less emboldened to implement further cuts, and will work towards improving the system going forward.

We’ve just finished our second pilot of the campaign. We learnt from our target audience and applied some behaviour change theory to our campaigning approach. Here’s seven things we’ve learned (in no particular order).

        

1. Be authentic

The public can tell … Read more

The tenants’ trap

Following the actions of Fergus and Judith Wilson hundreds of private renters have been served legal eviction notices– simply for receiving some housing benefit. According to the most recent National Landlords Association survey just one in five landlords let to people on benefits.

Those in desperate need may turn to their council for homelessness assistance. All local authorities in England have a legal duty to assist people who are homeless, or threatened with homelessness. As the loss of Read more

Bedroom tax legal, but not right. Shelter analysis of today’s court ruling

Attempts to moderate the worst impacts of the bedroom tax have suffered a set-back after the High Court ruled that the policy making process did not disproportionately discriminate against disabled people. If you are disabled, have severely disabled children or are at risk of violence, the hope for protection has now shifted back to politicians and campaigners. It has become even more important that national political leaders offer support, or they will bear responsibility for the emerging consequences of this … Read more

Homelessness rises as benefits are cut – coincidence?

Two days after George Osborne’s budget for an ‘aspiration nation’, with its focus on home ownership, today’s homelessness statistics reveal the reality for people at the sharp end of Britain’s housing crisis.

Homelessness acceptances are up 10% since 2011 to 53,450 households, 64% of them accepted because they’re families with dependent children. 

The number of households placed in B&B accommodation is up 26% to 4,000, including 1,690 families with children. The number of families stuck in B&Bs beyond the legal … Read more

'Predistribution' and the Living Wage – or, why we have to cut housing costs

It’s Living Wage Week 2012. On Monday, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Greater London Authority announced the 2012 rates for London and outside of London – £8.55 and £7.45 respectively.

All help for low-income families to afford a home is welcome. But reading the coverage of the Living Wage announcements, I was struck by the assumption that all that is needed to make a life free of poverty possible is to raise wage rates.

The fact is, though, that … Read more

Universal Credit and HB cuts: something for something?

What price Universal Credit? If today’s reports are to be believed at least £10 billion more than previously assumed, as this is the size of the upcoming welfare cut the Department for Work and Pensions has agreed to accept in exchange for the Treasury’s support for Universal Credit.

It’s been known for a while that the Treasury is nervous about the Department of Work and Pensions’ ability to pull off the ambitious Universal Credit programme. Rumours of delay, IT … Read more

UC and U-turns: when to start worrying about Universal Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) used to proudly claim Universal Credit (UC) was the biggest change to the welfare state in over 60 years. Attention is now increasingly focused on the department’s ability to deliver a scheme to justify the rhetoric. Are these soaring ambitions beginning to feel more like albatrosses round the neck of ministers?

Labour has been claiming for months that rollout will slip and has now called for the DWP to delay the launch by Read more

Benefit cap: Homelessness threat or success story?

Today the Government lays regulations to bring the overall benefit cap into force from April 2013. This measure – which restricts the total amount of benefits an out-of-work family can receive to £26,000 a year –  proved to be one of the biggest flashpoints of recent welfare reform.

The Government lost a crunch vote that amended the cap to remove child benefit, although Ministers overturned it by citing financial privilege. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was forced to … Read more

5 reasons why cutting housing support for young people is a bad move

We’ve just finished watching David Cameron’s major speech on welfare reform. In case you missed it, he is proposing that housing benefit should no longer be available to under 25s. It’s already kicked off a wealth of comment, with Conservative Home asking whether this a bold way to cut down a burgeoning benefits bill, or a political gamble that could ‘re-toxify’ the Conservative brand.

Here are five good reasons why cutting off this support could hold back … Read more

Myth busting round two: Is the cap hurting or working?

Yesterday I went to the DWP to hear the first findings [PDF] from the project monitoring the impact of changes to the Local Housing Allowance – the housing benefit for private renters.

It was interesting but ultimately inconclusive.  The researchers summarised very clearly ‘the results of the two surveys do not lend themselves to a concise or straightforward summary of the main effect so far’.

The report itself warns the results are an indication of ‘emerging trends and early signs … Read more

Is it better to invest in bricks or benefits?

The Housing Minister recently tweeted that the housing benefit debate is “misinformed” by claims the budget is being cut, when spending is in fact forecast to resume its upward trend after next year’s cuts have bitten.

This may be a deeply disingenuous argument – the Minister knows full well that the amounts paid out to individual households are falling – but it does highlight an important point: despite a £2 billion package of cuts the overall housing benefit budget will … Read more