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SFHA to make submission to new Work and Pensions Committee inquiry

Works and Pensions Select Committee launches inquiry into the social security safety net.

The Work and Pensions Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the current state of the UK’s welfare safety net, prompted by the evidence of debt, hunger and homelessness it has heard across several recent inquiries. It is seeking views from organisations and individuals on a series of questions, full details of which can be found on the Select Committee webpages.

The inquiry - launched as the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights makes an investigative visit to the UK - will consider how effectively the welfare system works to protect against hardship and chronic deprivation.

The UK’s welfare system is currently undergoing fundamental reform in the transition to Universal Credit alongside other major and largely untested reforms like benefit sanctions and the benefit cap. 

In a previous inquiry, the Committee concluded that welfare reforms risk leading people into severe hardship and called on Government to:

  • Ensure reforms such as the benefit cap do not inadvertently penalise groups who cannot actually adapt to it or offset its effects, and that appropriate mitigation strategies are in place. (For example, some claimants cannot find or move to cheaper housing, because none is available, or cannot move in to work because they are a single parent and there is no appropriate childcare in their area.)
  • Conduct robust, cross-departmental evaluation on the impact of local schemes on the most vulnerable households.
  • Co-ordinate with local government better to ensure more consistent quality of provision.

Since then, indicators suggest chronic deprivation is on the rise. These include numbers of households in temporary accommodation, rough sleepers, and people referred to foodbanks.

SFHA intends to prepare a submission to the inquiry, based on the experience of housing associations providing support for tenants making claims.  Policy Advisor Jeremy Hewer said:

“SFHA recently launched a case study reporting facility on its website to allow members to provide evidence of issues faced by tenants making and maintaining benefit claims.

“We will also hold a round table discussion on Monday, December 3rd between 11am and 1pm in the SFHA offices to give members an opportunity to discuss their concerns over the current system and to inform the SFHA submission. If you are interested in attending, please get in touch”.

Places at the roundtable event can be booked on the SFHA website.

The deadline for consultation submissions is 14 December 2018.