It’s no exaggeration to say that the changes that the government are introducing to affordable housing are the most extensive and far-reaching since 1945. They’re also implementing them at real pace.
That means they can’t really work through the impacts of what will happen on the ground when all these reforms start working together. Some of the effects are going to be pretty perverse, from what I hear from housing people. Here’s one:
In the private rented sector, families are going to be forced out of family-sized homes, and these same homes will become the preserve of single people.
1. The cap on housing benefit and the cap on overall benefits to £26,000, are likely to force larger families into smaller homes as family homes for them become unaffordable. There’s a strong chance that this measure will considerably increase overcrowding.
2. The government’s reforms to single people’s benefits will give people under-35 enough housing benefit to afford a room is a shared home. So, as families stop being able to afford to live in family homes, private landlords will find it easier to let larger homes to several single people.
So, it would seem to the centre that these are consistent policies to reducing the benefits bill – imposing benefit limits on families and single people. On the ground, it creates the perverse situation where poorer families get forced out of family homes which are then colonised by poorer single people.
The Mayor of London and the government have said it’s a problem that there are not enough family homes for families and we don’t build enough of them. It’s true. But, family homes in the private sector for poorer people are going to become more scarce.