A whole raft of cuts to housing benefit, including the benefit cap, bedroom tax, cutting of housing benefit for those aged 25-35 years old, and more, since 2011 has increased poverty and homelessness across the UK as people struggle to meet soaring rents with less and less income. On top of this, a further cut to housing benefit could be coming in soon in the form of housing benefit sanctions.
For a number of years the government have been talking about extending the brutal sanctions regime that is currently terrorising claimants on JSA and ESA to housing benefit. Under their plans, people in part-time work who claim housing benefit could have their housing benefit sanctioned if the DWP decide they are not doing enough to increase their hours or find better paid work. The government said they would be trialling this in April this year as part of the protracted roll out of Universal Credit, but so far, no one has heard anything more about this. Read more about this from welfare blogger Johnny Void. Eventually if the government’s plans are realised 1 million more people could be subject to the benefit sanction regime which is already causing suffering, hunger, homelessness, and deaths.
And it doesn’t stop there – Theresa May announced last month, in an attempt to stir up racial hatred and to attack both migrants and welfare, the Conservative’s plans to stop housing benefit to migrants who do not learn English if they get a majority government after May (which looks very unlikely). Already, the government has made JSA for migrants conditional on them learning English, and is now threatening to extend this to housing benefit. No one should be forced to learn English or do any other training or unpaid work under threat of destitution. These moves also undermine the role of ESOL teachers who want to teach people who want to be there voluntarily. ESOL teachers have not signed up to policing their students and getting their benefits removed if they are late or don’t turn up for class. Whilst making lots of noise about forcing migrants to learn English, the government recently announced huge cuts to Further Education of 24% meaning that many ESOL courses are under threat.
Boycott Workfare is a grassroots group that has been fighting the government’s workfare schemes and benefit sanctions for years now. There is a week of action against workfare and benefit sanctions from 25th April to 2nd May which we will be joining.
Sanctions to housing benefit will cause even more homelessness and poverty in our communities. HASL will fight all cuts to welfare and in solidarity with migrant groups and others fighting these racist policies! And we invite you to join us. We want quality, secure and truly affordable homes for all!