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[Mr James Gray in the Chair] — Housing Benefit

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:48 am on 13th October 2010.

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Photo of Bob Russell Bob Russell Liberal Democrat, Colchester 9:48 am, 13th October 2010

I do not think that our Scottish colleagues would accept that comparison, but the point being made is that people will be forced from their homes against their will. In the previous debate that I secured, I referred to that as economic cleansing. Of course, those families that stay put in their houses and struggle on with higher rent will have less disposable income to spend in local shops and on local services, which will have an impact on their local economies.

Children will be forced out into the suburbs or elsewhere, and it is important to remember that this is not just a city phenomenon, but one that can have an impact in rural areas. It will also have an impact on schooling, as there will be depopulated schools in some areas, because of the forced removal, and overcrowded schools in others, assuming that parents can find the places.

I know that other Members wish to speak so I conclude by quoting from one section of the excellent briefing that I was sent by Scope:

"An unemployed or low-income lone parent or couple with one child (or two children who share a room) is likely to lose around £500 a year once this reform takes effect...These reductions are likely to have a disproportionate impact on disabled people...those living in cities and urban centres with higher property costs-especially London-will be particularly affected...a reduction in the financial support that Housing Benefit provides will further reduce the number of suitable properties disabled people can afford, increasing the risk of them having to live in inappropriate housing, exacerbating their social isolation and dependence on other forms of support."

I recognise that the coalition Government inherited serious financial problems that they need to tackle, but nowhere in the coalition agreement does it say that poor families should be forced out of their homes or that children in disadvantaged families should be further disadvantaged.