Hackney Council has carried out research to model the impact of Housing Benefit changes. You can find the full report here and here’s a summary of their main findings:
Women are disproportionately affected by the reforms:
Women are more likely to be in part-time, low paid employment, unable to increase their hours to make up any shortfall in rent.
The average age of those affected is relatively young:
The housing benefit reforms have a big impact on younger people, as they are forced to find shared accommodation, or their families receive less housing benefit if they live in the same household.
The reforms with the highest weekly shortfalls tend to affected larger families:
As the maximum housing benefit payable in Hackney is now £400 a week, and for a maximum of 4 bedrooms, larger families may struggle to find affordable accommodation that does not result in cramped conditions.
Seeking work is not a potential solution for a significant proportion of affected claimants, as many are likely to be already working:
Although the government has suggested that taking on work could help to resolve the housing benefit shortfall, many claimants are already working. 93% of new housing benefit claims since the election are from people working on low incomes.
Research has found that the east of the borough is significantly more affected by the housing benefit changes:
This is because there was more private rented accommodation available in this part of the borough at the rates before the changes were introduced.
The impact of reform will peak and be felt most strongly between October to December 2012 and October 2014:
There will be a surge in numbers of people affected at these times who will be struggling to keep up with the rent, to find cheaper accommodation, or to apply for discretionary housing payments.
People who are vulnerable may be at risk if they have to move into shared accommodation:
There are also concerns for people who may have dependents to care for on a part-time basis. For example for those with access to see a child every other weekend, living in shared accommodation may not be an appropriate environment.