Homeless Link response to Welfare Reform Bill

With the Welfare Reform Bill due for its second reading in the House of Lords, Homeless Link is campaigning against proposals that could impact disproportionately on homeless people or contribute to an increase in homelessness.

The Bill proposes fundamental change to the current welfare system. Although Homeless Link welcomes some aspects of the legislation - such as the creation of a more efficient system, supporting people in their return to work and taking a personalised approach to welfare - we are concerned about the lack of detail contained in the Bill, which could limit opportunities for Parliament to scrutinise, challenge and propose changes to the legislation.

We have four key concerns:

  • The housing costs element of universal credit and existing housing benefit payment must reflect real housing costs and local variations. A general housing benefit and universal credit cap are potentially discriminatory and not sensitive to vulnerability and specific needs.
     
  • The proposals for a benefit cap should be removed from the Bill, but if retained then housing costs should be kept outside of the overall benefit cap.
     
  • The maximum sanction could increase to three years and we believe that this is disproportionate and could lead to hardship and put people at risk of destitution. The maximum higher level sanctions period should be reduced from 3 years to 26 weeks.
     
  • The Discretionary Social Fund should be retained.

The briefing sent by Homeless Link to MPs and Lords can be downloaded from this page in PDF format.