Housing Benefit: the facts
1. The vast majority of housing benefit claimants are either pensioners, disabled people, those caring for a relative or hardworking people on low incomes, and only 1 in 8 people who receive housing benefit is unemployed.
2. The cap on housing benefits - which the discussion in the media has focused on - saves £65 million. This is less than 3% of the total which is being cut from housing benefits.
3. The government plans to save £100 million by cutting housing benefits payments by 10% for people who are unemployed for more than one year.
4. The amount paid in housing benefits will be reduced in every area of the country, not just in London. You can see the reductions in your local area here.
5. The government has acknowledged that there will be negative consequences as a result of these changes - for example on homelessness, overcrowding, and child poverty - no proposals have been put forward for mitigating these effects.
6. A survey of landlords who currently rent properties to housing benefit tenants in London showed that very few would be prepared to lower their rents when changes to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) come into effect next year. Using the results from the survey, London Councils can estimate that more than 82,000 households – well over a quarter of a million people - could be priced out of their homes and the communities where they live and work.
7. The government is cutting housing-related support for people at risk of homelessness, even though a national evaluation has estimated that the £1.6bn spent annually on housing-related support through the Supporting People programme generates savings of £3.41bn to the public purse – by intervening earlier to prevent more severe problems arising, helping people live more independently and avoiding more costly acute services.
8. Single homeless people use around four times more acute hospital services than the general population, costing at least £85 million in total per year, according to Department of Health. That figure is likely to rise sharply if support is withdrawn to prevent homelessness. Research also shows that having stable accommodation reduces the risk of re-offending by a fifth.
9. Over time, the government is planning to reduce the value of Local Housing Allowance by raising it more slowly than inflation. This will reduce the amount of affordable housing every year.
10. In June, the government scrapped regulations which would have given tenants greater protection against being exploited by bad landlords.
11. A government impact assessment on the changes has concluded 936,960 of the 939,220 local housing allowance claimants will lose out. The average loss will be £12 per week.
Government ministers will only talk about the benefits cap, hence David Cameron making the claim that "If you are prepared to pay £20,000 in housing benefit, there is no reason why anyone should be left without a home." But this is just one small element of a set of cuts which will take money away from pensioners, carers and people in low paid jobs, as well as people who are out of work.
Everyone who has looked in detail at the cumulative effects of these cuts - from the Citizens Advice Bureaux to charities which work with homeless people, to Lib Dem housing experts to the Mayor of London - have concluded that they will be a disaster which will increase homelessness.