Councillors are familiar with case work from tenants living in overcrowded conditions. According to official figures, a total of 234,000 households in the social tenant sector are overcrowded. However there are also 456,000 such properties that are under-occupied – defined as people having more than one spare room.
Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud tells the Daily Mail this morning:
"We cannot continue with this absurd situation where some of our poorest families have to live in overcrowded conditions while others are subsidised to live in big homes with plenty of spare room."
Those on Housing Benefit who are living in Council or Housing Association properties with spare rooms will have their benefit cut. The change will not apply to pensioners but there will still be some who will have to move from a property they have lived in for many years – often where their children have left home.
According to the Daily Mail:
The principle would be that working-age housing benefit claimants who are living in a property that is too large for their household size will have their benefit capped.
It is expected that overall weekly caps will be set at £250 for a one-bed property, £290 for a two-bed, £340 for a three-bed and £400 for a four-bed.
This means the highest amount people will be paid in housing benefit will be just over £20,000 a year, rather than the current highest level of £104,000. In total, 3.3 million tenants- 70 per cent of housing benefit recipients- live in the social sector at an annual cost of more than £12 billion.