Fighting ‘No DSS’

A recent investigation by the BBC found that just 2% of all rental properties listed on the website SpareRoom.com were available without a ‘no DSS’ clause. ‘No DSS’ is a dated term which refers to the old Department of Social Security, now replaced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); it bars anyone claiming housing benefit from being able to even apply for a private rental. The BBC figure tallies with the experience of FRFI comrades in Manchester: we have found one private letting agent listing 57 of its 58 properties as ‘no housing benefit, no DSS’. The problem is not new: in 2012, the Manchester Evening News reported people claiming some form of benefit were excluded from four in five rentals in the region. The degree of exclusion is growing: membership surveys by the National Landlords Association reveal that the numbers willing to let properties to recipients of Universal Credit (UC) or Local Housing Allowance (LHA) has fallen from 46% in 2010 to 18% today.

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Reduced overall benefit cap: thousands face homelessness

68,000 families with 200,000 children have now been hit with the reduction in the Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) that was implemented over a three-month period to January 2017. These are among the poorest families in the country – yet on average they are having £58 a week taken away from them. The measure, which hits single parent families in particular, is one of the most punitive cuts in benefits implemented by the Tory government, and will inevitably lead to mounting rent arrears, court action, eviction and homelessness for thousands. Robert Clough reports.

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The market cannot ‘fix’ the housing crisis

No eviction

On 7 February shares in Britain’s biggest housebuilders soared as the government published its White Paper on housing; estate agent Savills saw a rise of 3.8%. The White Paper ensures that the drive for vast profits for multinational housing parasites will continue by intensifying the grab for public land, speeding up planning permission and throwing out planning regulations on quality and size. Key to the process will be the willingness of local councils to collaborate with private companies in delivering homes for market rent.

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Overall Benefit Cap reduction hits poorest in north London

cap rents not benefits

Responses by Camden and Islington councils to Freedom of information requests show that the reduced Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) is hammering the poorest sections of the working class. The measure, which limits the total benefits a family living in London can receive to £23,000 per annum, hits 885 families in the two borough, with over 2,500 children. Housing benefit is cut when a family’s benefits exceed this level to keep within the limit. For a single childless person living in London, the benefit cap is £15,410 per annum.

The figures show that in Islington, 309 single people without children living in private rented accommodation will receive an average deduction of £35.34 per week, an annual deduction of £1,837.68. This is because the Local Housing Allowance for a single bedroom self-contained flat is £260 per week, or £13,520 per annum, allowing a single person to retain only £1,890 each year from their Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment Support Allowance. Their only option is to move out of Islington – social cleansing of those out of work.

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Greater Manchester council cuts

Greater Manchester is set to welcome its first Mayor into office later this year as the centrepiece of the Devolution Agreement imposed on its three million inhabitants in 2014. However, no matter what grand promises will be offered during the upcoming mayoral election campaign, the fact is that 2017 will witness the continuation of brutal cuts to public services, as Labour-controlled councils in the region continue to do the government’s dirty work.

Manchester City Council announced late in 2016 it would be implementing a cuts package totaling £30m. Despite a proposed 8% hike in council tax, the council still seeks to trim £12m from the social care budget, directly affecting some of the city’s most vulnerable. This will be accompanied by savings in the deployment of school crossing wardens – jeopardising child safety – and cuts to parks and recreation budgets, affecting many public spaces in the region. The council undertook a ‘public consultation’ regarding the impending cuts. Its supposed aim was to ‘use what you tell us as part of our budget setting process’. Yet, with just 1,700 residents taking part and the limited scope of options offered, the exercise was less a consultation and more an attempt to frame any proposed cuts as having public approval.

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