The Welfare Bill and attacks on housing benefit

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2012 National Delegate Conference
28 February 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that the housing benefit changes outlined in the Westminster government’s Welfare Bill will have a devastating effect on many people, including some UNISON members, throughout the UK.

The welfare bill proposals, drafted as part of a drive to reduce welfare costs, will leave many people at risk of being driven into debt, falling into arrears and risking losing their home, as they struggle to meet the increased costs that will be required. There have been consistent warnings made to the Tory led government that the housing benefit proposal could in fact increase levels of homelessness. This, in turn, would raise the pressure on already swollen affordable housing waiting lists as well as the pressure upon local authorities. Private rental providers would also suffer as the cap on housing benefit would lead to the rental of those properties being out of reach for most housing benefit recipients.

The implementation of a universal credit would also mean reduced access to local experts who provide support and advice on housing and benefit issues. Currently over 20,000 public sector staff are available to provide face to face support for those who need it. A loss of these services would hit the poorest and vulnerable hardest.

It is clear the already most disadvantaged in our society look set to lose the most as a result of the Welfare Bill, including disabled people, single parent families, young people, the low paid, and the long term unemployed.

Conference calls upon:

1) the National Executive Council to work closely with all regions and the relevant service groups to liaise with homeless charity organisations, the National Housing Federation, the Homebuilding Federation and the equivalent affordable housing voices in the devolved nations to campaign against the housing benefit changes;

2) the National Executive Council to lobby MPs to oppose changes to housing benefit;

3) regions to lobby the appropriate decision makers to retain local advice and support services; and

4) regions to work closely with branches to campaign to retain housing functions within local authority control wherever possible.