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News round-up: Disabled to be hit by spare room benefit cut

Disabled worst hit by housing benefit plans, first-time buyers support stricter lending regulations and 20,000 new homes put on hold because of localism bill

Disabled to be hit by spare room benefit cut, warns NHF

Plans to cut housing benefit for working-age tenants who are under-occupying their homes will hit disabled people living in specially adapted accomodation, the National Housing Federation (NHF) has warned. It claims 670,000 people could face cuts of up to £676 each a year. Ministers hope the plans will cut housing waiting lists and overcrowding in social homes. But the NHF claims that two-thirds of people affected by the plans are disabled and the changes could force them to move or risk going into debt. Under new plans, which come into force in April 2013, any household considered to be under-occupying property by one bedroom will lose 13% of its housing benefit while any under-occupying by two or more bedrooms will face a 23% cut. The NHF has called for the government to exempt those claiming disability allowance and all disabled people living in specially adapted properties.

First-time buyers back lending restrictions

Three-quarters of first-time buyers think banks should lend more responsibly, even if it means that getting on the housing ladder is even more difficult. A survey of 2,118 first-time buyers, carried out by Yougov on behalf of housing charity Shelter, also found that 79% think lenders behaved irresponsibly before the credit crunch while 75% believe it is the banks' responsibility to make sure borrowers are able to manage their debts. Shelter welcomed the results of the survey. It wants to see tougher lending rules enforced by the Financial Services Authority's (FSA) mortgage review. Shelter is worried the FSA will not enforce strict rules on lenders because of pressure from government and the housing sector. Chief executive of Shelter, Campbell Robb, said: "It's high time the housing minister stopped bowing to the banking lobby and ignoring the advice of economic experts and consumers who have sent clear signals that mortgage lenders need to clean their act up."

Major development on hold after localism bill fears

The Planning Inspectorate has scrapped Stevenage council's plans to build 20,000 new homes as its core strategy was "unsound". The plan had involved a joint partnership between Stevenage and North Hertfordshire district council, which had hoped to build 9,600 new homes in the north and west of Stevenage. North Hertfordshire backed out of the plans in June 2010 when communities minister Eric Pickles announced the abolition of regional strategies under the localism bill. Under the bill, districts will set their own housing targets, prompting North Hertfordshire to abandon its partnership with Stevenage.

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