More About The Housing Poverty Benefit Hearing

The Housing Benefit Poverty Hearing happened at the Bristol Council House on Friday 18 May 2012.

The audience included housing organisations, employers, MPs, councillors, landlords, charitable trusts, the media and the public.

For more archived material and other information about the Hearing, along with audio recordings of the event, please go to this page.

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Sharing What We Have

We were recently asked to share a copy of this handout comparing welfare with ‘handouts for the rich’.

Download the original document here: Handouts for the rich

If you’re unable to open the document, here is the text it contains.

Handouts for the rich, cuts for the poor

More than 5 million people in the UK earn less than the living wage. Most of these people depend on Housing Benefit, Child Benefit or Working Tax Credit to survive. The state has been paying about £4 billion a year to top up the incomes of low earners – a sum that could be halved if employers paid the living wage. Instead, 7 million working households have had their benefits and tax credits cut.

 The Housing Benefit cuts have been savage. This is not just a problem for London e.g. on average almost 7,000 private tenants in Bristol lost £27.84 pw, single people under age 35 lost £41.60 pw and very large families lost £148.61 pw.

 Childcare tax breaks

The Chancellor announced childcare tax breaks for all working families of up to £2,000 pa per child. This will be available to working couples where both parents earn less than £150,000 pa.

 Why should any basic rate tax payer subsidise those who are earning up to £300,000 pa?

 Help to Buy mortgage guarantees

This scheme enables home movers and first time buyers to buy an existing or new-build home costing up to £600,000 with only a 5% deposit, while the government guarantees the lender up to 15% of the property price. There is no limit on the buyer’s level of income, so this is a really good deal not only for first time buyers but also affluent home owners wanting to move up the property ladder.

 The institute of Directors have labelled this scheme as “mad” and “dangerous”, because it increases demand and prices by under-writing £130 billion of mortgage lending with state money, while the urgent need is to increase the supply of housing.

 When the average house price in England is around £260,000, why should any basic rate taxpayer subsidise those who want to buy properties costing up to £600,000?

 Buy-to-let mortgage tax breaks

Private landlords with buy-to-let mortgages can reduce their income tax by offsetting the mortgage interest against the rent. (Private homeowners no longer receive tax relief on mortgage interest). For example, a landlord with a £150,000 interest-only mortgage at a 5% interest rate can set the monthly mortgage payment of £625 against rental income of £1,000 and only pay tax on £375 pm – and there are other ways in which private landlords can arrange their finances to pay hardly any tax.

 The Intergenerational Foundation regards these tax breaks as an “upper middle class perk” which has resulted in a loss of revenue of up to £5.2 billion pa. Allowing individuals to withdraw their entire pension savings could increase the buy-to-let boom and may lead to a crash in property prices.

 How can we allow this to continue when average private rents are higher than average mortgage payments and a generation of young people are being priced out of both home ownership and private renting?

 Prepared by Hilary Saunders, Chair of Bristol Poverty Action
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Shelter launches ‘Let Us Rent’ petition.

The charity Shelter recently informed Bristol Poverty Action about their latest campaign to combat homelessness and bad housing. Even though 4 out of 10 renters get some housing benefit, many banks and building societies prevent their landlords from renting to them. That’s why Shelter is encouraging people to sign an online petition urging more lenders to lend to buy-to-let landlords who take benefits tenants. The text of their email is as follows…

Since the credit crunch, the number of working people who claim housing benefit has doubled. In other words: things are so bad with our housing market – and our economy – that even people with jobs can’t afford to keep their home.

Now consider this: many of the UK’s big banks and building societies prevent landlords from renting to people on housing benefit. More than ever, our country needs rented housing opened up to all.

Ask the big banks and building societies to let landlords rent homes to people on housing benefit: add your name to our petition now.

We’re very pleased that Nationwide and Lloyds recently became the only major buy-to-let lenders to explicitly remove restrictions on letting to people receiving housing benefit.

You can help force the others to follow suit.

Let’s make sure nobody is locked out of renting and landlords have the freedom to let to everyone. Sign our petition now:

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Bristol’s Benefits Briefing Guide Now Available For Download Here.

ImageAdvice Centres For Avon (ACFA) have been really busy lately. Not only have they just launched a brand new advice-focused website, they’re also working hard to get the right information about the new benefits changes to the right people.

At a recent meeting in February, there was praise for the recently-distributed Benefits Briefing Guide produced by Bristol City Council’s Welfare Rights and Money Advice Support Services (WRAMAS).Image

Many of the attending members expressed a desire to receive paper copies, which they would make available to clients in their reception areas. Jenny Byrne, the WRAMAS representative at the meeting kindly agreed to post printed copies to organisations who requested them. She can be reached at the following email address:

Want your own copy? The guide is available for free download as a PDF file. Simply click on this cover image to open it, or right-click and choose ‘save as’ to download to your own computer for later viewing.

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CRISIS Touts Success,Thanks Campaigners


The national charity for single homeless people, Crisis, has thanked its supporters for their support in a campaign against government plans to stop under 25s claiming housing benefit.

Singer Ed Sheeran is supporting the campaign with exclusive videos and more.

Despite expectations to the contrary, there was no mention of the proposed cuts in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

However, what CRISIS calls a “potentially disastrous” plan is still being considered by the Government.

They say they will keep campaigning against it and have asked supporters to add a voice to the campaign.

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