TAP submission to the APPG on Health in All Policies on ⦁ The worthlessness of the adult JSA/UC ⦁ Homeless families in temporary accommodation. The misery of insecure tenures

16 February 2019

Submission to the APPG on Health in All Policies

inquiry into actual impacts of the Welfare Reform and Work Act (WR&WA) 2016.

We are making submissions on two issues which have been worsened by the 2016 Act;

⦁ The worthlessness of the adult JSA/UC

⦁ Homeless families in temporary accommodation. The misery of insecure tenures.  

 

The worthlessness of the adult unemployment benefit in 2019

 
We ask the APPG on Health in All Policies to note the continual loss in value since the 1980s of the single adult JSA of £73.10 a week, which equates to Universal Credit of £317 a month.  Before the 2012 and 2016 Welfare Reform Acts it was paid after rent and council tax which were covered by 100% benefits. JSA/UC has been losing value since 1979 and frozen since 2011. 
 
⦁ The impact of low income and debt on the health of the poorest citizens has been spelled out at the request of governments by Black 1980, Acheson in 1998 and Marmot 2010. ⦁ A summary of the evidence can be found in three blogs by Dr Angela Donkin on our website⦁ . It has been persistently ignored by governments.  
 
⦁ The best measure of poverty is the level of minimum income remaining after rent, council and income taxes are paid. Can £73.10 a week pay for an individual adult to buy a healthy diet, fuel, clothes, transport and other necessities?
 
⦁ Using page 38 of the Joseph Rowntree full report “A Minimum Income Standard for the UK 2008-2018”, which informs the level of the real living wage, we have extracted a choice of the minimum weekly costs for an unemployed single adult leaving a bare minimum for survival which is £20.86 a week too little.
 
  £pw
Food  49.29
Water 6.00
Clothing 8.41
Personal 16.21
Transport 4.15
Household services 6.84
Household insurance 1.62
Other housing costs 1.44
Total 93.96
Less JSA  73.10

Shortfall                               £20.86pw

 

                                           Or £1100 pa

⦁ It is paid to at least 3.6 million people a year (please see ONS BENO1). 
 
⦁ It is the benefit to which disability benefits are reduced when disabled people fail Work Capability Assessments or Personal Independence Payments. 
 
⦁ Since April 2013 to that £1100 a year JSA/UC short fall is added 8.5% to 30% of the council tax charged to JSA/UC claimants in 277 out of 326 councils in England. Council tax is enforced by the councils against claimants by local authorities using the magistrates courts and the bailiffs, adding court costs and bailiffs fees to the arrears. About 11,000 times a year against JSA/UC claimants in a borough like Haringey, until April 2019 when Haringey Council will cease this injustice of taxing JSA/UC of families and then ceasing it for single adults in April 2020.  
 
⦁ Since April 2013 JSA/UC is also required to pay rent owing to housing benefit cuts by the bedroom tax, the local housing allowing, the benefit cap and the two child limit. 
 
⦁ Rents and council tax increase while increases in UC are frozen. 
 
⦁ Any shortfall in rent and council tax payments from the adult JSA/UC has to be paid for out of the benefits of the children or the disabled, or it is not paid at all, which leads to eviction for rents arrears and the courts and threats of prison and bailiffs for the council tax arrears.   
 
⦁ Whether or not JSA/UC is enough on which to survive, and to pay rent and council tax, has not been researched by the government. 
 
⦁ JSA/UC is stopped by sanctions and job-center delays for people both in work and when they are employed. During a three month sanction rent, council tax arrears and other debts pile up to be enforced later by local authorities and other creditors.  £0.01 was paid by the DWP in to the bank of a single adult on a zero hours contract to last a month. He had rent and council tax arrears. (see table below)
  
⦁ When unemployment benefits cannot hold body and soul together it is so much easier for unscrupulous employers to pay poverty wages. 
 

 

Homeless families in temporary accommodation. The misery of insecurity of tenure.  

Many young children are being forced by the councils to move through a ten year or more grand national of homelessness jumping over one eviction after another throughout their education suffering unnecessary and debilitating stress.

According to the House of Commons Library there were 79,880 households in temporary accommodation in England at the end of March 2018. A 65% increase since the first quarter of 2010. That includes 123,230 children. Of these households, 54,540 (68%) are in London.   
 
They are at the mercy of landlords and councils. 
 
One family I have met, mother employed and father self-employed with two young children, has been compelled by the council to move house for over ten years.
  • They became homeless then; 
  • Their temporary accommodation was repossessed by a mortgage company two months after they moved in,
  • they then had a short-hold tenancy for eight years and were then evicted, followed by a flat with another tenants’ upstairs toilet leaking into their downstairs kitchen.
  • They were moved into a Homeless Hostel to share with addicted single homeless adults after an eight hour wait in the Housing Office.
  • They have now been moved into a council estate which is due to be demolished. 
Their great fear is that they will be forced by law to move from £90 a week council rent to £300 a week private rent for two bedroomed accommodation.
 

Two major housing amendments are needed.

 

 
⦁ Section 21of the Housing Act 1988 allows landords to evict tenants without reason after two months.   
⦁ Since 2012 families in temporary accommodation may not refuse any offer of permanent accommodation made by a local authority. 
 

Landlords can remove tenants without giving a reason. That’s unfair and it needs to change.

"Most of England’s 11 million renters are on contracts with fixed terms of six months or a year; after this period has ended, landlords can evict their tenants with just two months’ notice – and without even giving them a reason. These ‘no fault evictions’ were introduced under section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. Before this, private tenants had much greater security and it was much harder for landlords to evict tenants who paid the rent on time and looked after the property. The government has finally decided to consult on ways of improving renter security, but - while there are some promising aspects to their proposals - they suggest that no-fault evictions will remain. Generation Rent, the New Economics Foundation, ACORN and the London Renters Union are launching a campaign to abolish section 21."
https://www.generationrent.org/s21explainer 
 

"Risks of refusing an offer;

 
⦁ Housing and legal advisers usually advise that it is not a good idea to turn down an offer of housing.
⦁ The council can end your temporary accommodation if you refuse a suitable offer:"
http://england.shelter.org.uk/housing_advice/homelessness/rules/longer_term_housing_when_homeless 
 
 

We have also submitted our contribution to the Fabian Society Poverty and social security: where next? series. It is called "MISSING MORALITY". 

and hope you will sign up to our seminar on the 1st May. 

 

"Social death - the impact of austerity and poverty"

A seminar on 1st May, 6-8pm, Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster . 
Our purpose is to place on record well sourced and tragic 
impacts of austerity and poverty.

Chair: Debbie Abrahams MP
Speakers: 
Professor Danny Dorling
Dr Faiza Shaheen
Dr Chris Grover
And one more tba
 

REGISTER

 

 
Rev Paul Nicolson
15th February 2019

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