Thursday 15 September 2011

Social Change Through Housing Benefits Cuts Again Misreported By H&F Council

Tuesday night’s Housing, Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee again considered the housing benefits (HB) and Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cuts

The Administration presented a report that omitted to inform the committee the full picture on the basis that it was too complex to compile. If they had purposefully set out to mislead new councillors still learning about this subject they couldn’t have done a better job.

There are almost 25,000 Hammersmith and Fulham Borough residents in receipt of housing benefits but the Administration chose just to talk about the 546 households it has an on-going relationship with. There is plenty of independent research that says thousands of households will be forced to move out of high value areas like Hammersmith and Fulham because of the Government’s cuts. It was only last November that a senior official told the Select Committee that he didn't know whether this would induce “a small wave of homelessness applications or a homeless Tsunami.” 

Earlier this year I had written to the Director of Education asking him about how this would affect local schools. He has since carried out research to answer that question. “Where is that?” I asked. The Housing Department hadn’t brought it along. There was no good explanation.

The last Borough Select Committee meetings on HB/LHA was last March and in November last year. Those meeting were quite disgraceful and caused H&F Council to be spotlighted by a number of charities and national media. It was a shame that hadn’t caused them to alter their approach.

The new Chair of the Housing Select Committee promised that we will review all these matters at the January meeting. I was glad she took such a clear line. I'll let you know what happens then.

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