Government U-turn on plans to dock housing benefit for antisocial tenants who won’t seek help

People who are evicted for antisocial behaviour and refuse to address their behaviour using the support and help offered to them will face having their housing benefit removed under government plans announced today.

The move is a U-turn from back in February 2004 when the government shelved plans to dock housing benefit of antisocial neighbours after a consultation revealed huge opposition to the proposed sanction.

The Department for Work and Pensions consultation paper found that 81 per cent of councils, 90 per cent of charities and 97 per cent of registered social landlords opposed using housing benefit sanctions to tackle antisocial behaviour.

But today work and pensions secretary John Hutton said: “The threat of sanctioning housing benefit will send clear signal to the handful of people evicted each year for antisocial behaviour that they must address their problem behaviour and engage in rehabilitation.”

A statement issued by the department insisted that the measure was “not about changing the eviction process but about getting people to change their behaviour and will only operate where the household has chosen not to cooperate”.

Hutton added: “It is not right that people who get evicted should be able simply to move to another area and continue their bad behaviour.”

The government plans to pilot a scheme that ensures that people who are evicted as a result of antisocial behaviour accept rehabilitation.

Legislation is required and the Department for Work and Pensions intends to legislate as soon as possible. It intends to begin the pilots in 2008 in 10 local authorities.

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