Thousands in Redbridge to be hit by housing benefit cuts

MORE THAN 5,000 people in Redbridge will be hit in their pockets when housing benefit payments are slashed next year.

But the borough is expected to be one of the least hit by the changes, due to a high number of properties with few bedrooms, such as flats and maisonettes.

The Local Housing Allowance cap based on the number of bedrooms each claimant qualifies for, which comes into effect from April 2011, does not affect any claimants who qualify for up to four bedrooms.

But 183 claimants, who qualify for five bedrooms and above, would be affected by the allowance cap to reduce the maximum payment to four bedrooms between April and March 2012.

The average impact on these claimants would be a reduction of about �53 per week, which could see a family �2,756 out of pocket each year.

Cllr Robin Turbefield, Cabinet member for housing, stood by his party’s cuts saying: “A lot of the media reports on housing benefit are scaremongering.

“But I do believe it’s fundamentally wrong that someone who works and contributes to taxes should not be able to afford to live in as good a home as someone who doesn’t.”

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The cap brings in the removal of the “excess payments”, which means those who live in smaller accommodation could be up to �15 a week better off, as well as a second cap on the local housing rate in October next year.

Labour group leader Cllr Bob Littlewood said Redbridge’s marginally cheaper rental market would bring in many new families in search of housing.

“The cap on rent means that in several boroughs in central and south west London, the rental amount has already exceed the proposed cap.

“Redbridge, with slightly cheaper rents, will be among the receiving boroughs, bringing additional pressures on our overcrowded schools and other facilities already facing cuts.”

A Redbridge housing spokesman said: “Existing benefit claimants would only be affected by the cuts after their yearly annual review.”