Housing benefit cuts ‘will push disabled people further into poverty’


Government cuts to spending on housing benefit are likely to increase homelessness among disabled people and push them further into poverty according to a disabled people’s pressure group.

The Local Housing Allowance Reform Group (LHARG) spoke out in evidence submitted to the Commons work and pensions committee’s inquiry into the housing benefit changes announced in June’s emergency budget.

The changes include cuts to local housing allowance (LHA) rates, although disabled people who need an overnight support worker will now be able to claim LHA for the cost of an extra bedroom.

Linda Burnip, campaign co-ordinator of LHARG – set up by disabled activists to campaign for affordable housing for the two million disabled people in the private rented sector – says the government’s changes will breach several articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and potentially “deprive disabled people of their human right to live independently in the community”.

Because of cuts to LHA, disabled people will only be able to afford to rent the cheapest properties, which LHARG says are “more than likely to be inaccessible” and in areas where disability hate crime is more common.

LHARG also points out in its evidence that the housing benefit changes will cost the government money – rather than helping it to cut spending – if they cause homelessness and poverty among disabled people to increase.

The group also believes that the equality impact assessment carried out by the government on the housing benefit changes was “inadequate and flawed”.

9 September 2010