By Linus Rees
Advice workers at the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre are concerned about the effect that the proposed housing benefit limits will have on people living in central London. Many people asking for advice are already worried about being able to pay their rent when the cuts take effect next year.
BBC London television journalists visited the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Centre on Wednesday morning to find out first hand about the effect the news of the proposed cuts in benefit has had on people seeking advice on welfare benefits.
Barbara Jacobson, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association‘s development and advice worker, told the BBC’s Gareth Furby that many people are worried about being able to manage when the housing benefit limits are imposed. Ms Jacobson said: “People are scared and it is affecting their health. Security of housing is a very basic need and if you take away someone’s security to a roof over their head you are going to create more problems.
“If the government are going to set limits on housing benefit rates in this way, then they should also set limits on rents that private landlords can charge. You can’t have one without the other,” said Ms Jacobson.
“I am very concerned that this proposal by the government is going to make people homeless and drive people out of central London. Only the rich will be able to afford to live here. Yet central London is a mix of people from all different classes and backgrounds. There are long-established communities here and they have all had a part in creating the diverse multicultural and integrated neighbourhoods we have here. This proposal to impose cuts on housing benefit could have the effect of class-cleansing central London neighbourhoods.
“This government should be investing in more social housing and other affordable housing, not making cuts in this way. All it will do is cause more problems,” said Ms Jacobson.
Advice-giving organisations like Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association also face possible cuts to their grants from City of Westminster and London Borough of Camden due to central government imposing a limit on local authorities’ spending. Cuts of more than 25 percent are possible.
This leaves advice-giving organisations with the problem of having to deal with more enquiries about housing benefit yet having less money to deliver an advice service.
Housing benefit cuts ‘risk increases to homelessness’ — Community Care.
Housing benefit cuts put 200,000 at risk of homelessness, campaign group warns — The National Housing Federation