Government warns of benefit sanctions

Homelessness charity Shelter has criticised government plans put
out to consultation this week to cut housing benefit from people
accused of antisocial behaviour.

The charity emphasised that the benefit was intended to help people
pay for their homes and should not be used as a tool to punish bad

Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith issued the consultation
document to local authorities and other bodies to seek views on the
housing benefit sanctions.

“The government sympathises with those who question whether it is
right for the state to support the housing costs of people whose
behaviour brings misery to the lives of individuals and
communities,” he said.

“The aim of a housing benefit sanction would be to provide a
workable measure that could be applied swiftly and fairly in
response to such behaviour.”

But Shelter said there were already numerous sanctions available
for use against people found guilty of unsociable acts, adding that
the Antisocial Behaviour Bill currently in parliament would provide
even more.

Shelter’s director, Adam Sampson, said: “We need a more balanced
solution – one that challenges and prevents antisocial behaviour
and does not simply exacerbate poverty and make more people

The consultation describes two options: a sanction triggered by
court convictions for offences involving antisocial behaviour and a
sanction triggered by a separate local authority administrative
process. Both would be delivered by the local authority housing
benefit service.

The deadline for responses is 12 August.

– Consultation from

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