The government's decision to overturn House of Lords amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill was “totally wrong”, says the National Housing Federation.
The organisation has pledged to "keep fighting" against the coalition's “unfair” proposals, it said today (2 February 2012).
Among the controversial measures in the WRB is the decision to cut housing benefits for social tenants who are deemed to under-occupy their homes as well as a £26,000-a-year benefits cap - which has been heavily criticised or questioned by charities, churches and more recently the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
National Housing Federation Chief Executive David Orr said: "The decision by MPs to reject the Lords' Bedroom Tax compromise is a blow to thousands of families in social housing across the country, many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet."
He continued: "That over 70 organisations, from disabled charities to mortgage lenders, came together in support of this change to the Welfare Reform Bill shows just how important this issue is. It is unjust to penalise people for under-occupying their homes when they have nowhere else to move to."
"Given the level of opposition in the Lords to these proposals and their potential impact, it is totally wrong for the Government to shut down discussion by claiming financial privilege," said Mr Orr.
'We will continue to campaign against these unfair proposals," he declared.
The government has reaffirmed its commitment to "transitional arrangements" and promised a nine-month "grace period" for tenants hit by the overall benefit cap after losing their job.
The National Housing Federation said it welcomed the new arrangements but warned that they are insufficient on their own and will do little to protect families.
"We remain concerned that this crude measure will lead to a rise in rent arrears, homelessness and child poverty," said NHF chief Orr.
* National Housing Federation: http://www.housing.org.uk/
* See also: Unfair to tenants and taxpayers: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16225