Redbridge Council: 5,500 people hit by housing benefit cap

The full extent of the effect on government housing benefit cuts to claimants in Redbridge is now becoming clear.

The council has said 5,500 people in the borough will be affected by the changes, due to start from April 1.

Housing benefit claimants in Redbridge will lose out on an average of �13 and councillors continue to fear an influx to the borough of families from high-rent areas in central London.

The cuts, will limit the amount paid for rent to �400-a-week for the largest homes or �290-a-week for two-bedroom flats.

Cllr Marie Pye, chairman of East London Housing Partnership, an alliance of the housing departments from Redbridge and neighbouring boroughs, said a further reduction on benefits, which sets the limit of any family’s income from benefits at �26,000, will make life even harder for claimants.

She said: “We are becoming increasingly concerned about the impacts of the proposed cap to benefits for non-working households which will effectively be a second cut to thousands of London households.

“We are already struggling with finding enough decent accommodation for our residents and making sure that these are safe and well managed.”

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She added: “Our residents are already struggling to find places to live at an affordable price. These changes could make it even more difficult.”

Redbridge Council has begun writing to claimants to explain how they will be affected by the changes. Officers have also started negotiating with private landlords to lower their rents.

A council spokesman said: “Anyone currently claiming local housing allowance will be protected for nine months after their first annual review due after April 1 2011 as long as they have no change in circumstances. For example, a claimant with an annual review date of July 2011 will not be affected until April 2012.”

An extra payment of �15, given to claimants whose rent is less than the Local Housing Allowance rate, will also be removed.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “This is all about returning fairness to the system.

“If you are getting �26,000 on benefits you would have to be earning �35,000 before tax which is a considerable sum.

“It is not right that some people on benefits have got a house that the average working family can only dream of.”