The main story in today’s Observer is a leaked letter from DCLG about the effects of the proposed capping. You can read it at Tories admit benefit cuts risk 40,000 homeless families.
The likely effects aren’t new, many organisations and individuals have pointed out the dangers before, and even the government have accepted them publicly.
The DWP’s impact assessment for the proposal said
… overall around 50,000 households will have their benefits reduced by the policy … On average households will lose around £93 per week.
Housing Benefit may no longer cover housing costs and some households may go into rent arrears. This will require expense and effort by landlords and the courts to evict and seek to recoup rent arrears. Some households are likely to present as homeless, and may as a result need to move into more expensive temporary accommodation, at a cost to the local authority. It is not possible to quantify these costs because they are based on behavioural changes which are difficult to assess robustly.
A year ago a minister, Baroness Hanham, said in a debate
… there will be casualties from that; there is no doubt about that. It will be up to local authorities to deal with that as sensitively and carefully as they can if people have to leave their home.
What is new is that these are hard figures and official ones too and that alternatives are proposed. Perhaps Eric Pickles department has a better method of predicting behavioural changes than the DWP has; if they have then maybe the DWP should ask them to look at the effects of some of the other proposals as well.