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Council house tenants living in properties that are bigger than they need are to be forced to move into smaller accommodation.
Ministers are preparing to launch a 'house swap' scheme which is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of people.

According to official figures, a total of 234,000 households in the social tenant sector are overcrowded while 456,000 are under-occupied, meaning people have more than one extra spare room.
A further 1,159,000 households have more rooms than is standard for a family of their size.

The Work and Pensions department is now drawing up plans to slash housing benefit payments to those tenants who live in houses that are too big for them - meaning many will have to move into smaller properties.

If they could afford to pay the difference themselves to stay where they are it will raise questions about their eligibility for housing benefit in the first place.

The move is likely to prove controversial, since 'empty nest' couples who have lived in council houses for decades and seen their children vacate rooms when they leave home are among those who will be affected.

But Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud told the Daily Mail: 'We cannot continue with this absurd situation where some of our poorest families have to live in overcrowded conditions while others are subsidised to live in big homes with plenty of spare room.
Lord Freud said the restrictions, which will come into effect from April 2013, will only apply to people of working age, sparing pensioners from the trauma of having to move from their homes.

The Government plans to work with local authorities to ensure that the housing stock is more 'sensibly utilised' and that entitlement to social housing reflects family size.

Specific detail is yet to be agreed, but the principle would be that working-age housing benefit claimants who are living in a property that is too large for their household size will have their benefit capped.
It is expected that overall weekly caps will be set at £250 for a one-bed property, £290 for a two-bed, £340 for a three-bed and £400 for a four-bed.

This means the highest amount people will be paid in housing benefit will be just over £20,000 a year, rather than the current highest level of £104,000. In total, 3.3million tenants- 70 per cent of housing benefit recipients- live in the social sector at an annual cost of more than £12billion.

In last month's emergency Budget, Chancellor George Osborne also announced that instead of people on housing benefit being able to claim rent of up to half of the local average, they will instead be only able to claim up to one third.

And unemployed people who claim JobSeeker's Allowance for 12 months will also see their housing benefit cut by ten per cent.
Campaigners claim the draconian nature of the benefit reforms will put 750,000 people at risk of losing their homes in London and the South East.
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I think this is a good thing personally. I grew up in London in a one bed flat for a family of five and opposite us was a row of pensioners in three bed houses. All of them were widows who never used their gardens and I used to sit at my window in the summer wishing we could have one. My mum used to take us on the bus to the park once a week because thats all she could afford. Memories of your children growing up are in your head not bricks and mortar. My youngest Children have moved three times and they are six and seven and I have photos and memories but not for a house. I hope they make people do this I remember my Gran shuting up her house for the winter (she owned hers) and living in two rooms because she could not afford to heat it and I bet people in rented struggle too. Its only fair I think.
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I can see the logic BUT on principle I do not see how someone already forced to live on benefits should be made to leave their home or move to a smaller/cheaper home after a year...... I would say that the majority of working age people would prefer to work and pay their way but there are not enough decent jobs in certain areas.
We are 'under-occupied' in that we have 3 bedrooms and there is only myself and my daughter living here, if I was forced into a situation where I had to rely soley on benefits, then have to uproot and move or face further financial hardship I would be very very sad and angry too.
Council allocations policies need an overhaul and private rented accommodation needs more security and better regulation on the standards of repair etc, we have seen many council houses lost when they were bought through the right to buy schemes, millions of homes have left council control through stock transfer arrangements with housing associations and co=ops and that has pushed the rents through the roof in many areas. I live in a 'bad' area in North Wales with high unemployment but social rents are almost as high as private!
The government could do what has been proposed on many ocasions in history where small associations are set up and short-life property, flats above shops, unused derelicts are taken and re-built/renovated to a decent standard and then rented out at an affordable rent for as long as it takes to pay for the works........ then returned to their owners. Councils already have powers to do this under a management order but lack the backbone to see it through!
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I think the proposals are a good idea in theory but safe guards need to be in place to avoid people facing severe hardship or homelessness.
I think its a little harshly done by saying if you dont move we will strip your benefits.
Why not try another approach and say to people if you move from this property into another smaller property we will give you X amount of money to refurbish the new property and ensure its of the "Same level" of the property they are moving from.
Some people think why pay them?
Well it makes sense because if they move into a smaller property then the housing benefit is less and then in turn they recoup the small amount of money given to the tenant to move and free up a larger house.

I think the whole council house system needs a major review and i suppose the goverment deserve credit for finally trying to do something about it just hope its done the right way.

What other options are there to make the system fairer and what would you like to see happen?
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actually Daniel i dont think "why pay them" as they have paid out money to get their house decorated to their tastes and to actually be pushed into moving to a smaller property which could mean furniture that doesnt fit and new carpets would need to be fitted why should they be out of pocket as well as out of their HOME this isnt only a case of your house is too big its your home especially if you have lived there for a number of years.

the rents round here for council are a lot cheaper than private £65 a week for a 3 bed "terrace" while next door that was bought for £21,000 6 yrs ago is now being rented out for £125 a week but we are above average in unemployment (surprise surprise when they send all our jobs abroad duh we used to be known as the potteries Blush) we live in a 3 bed house for the 3 of us but if we had a 2 bed that would mean matts room would be connected to house next door and he is noisy till gone midnight/one am, as it is he has the box room and the larger bedroom is junk/ sofabed for when brother in law stays when helping mark look after matt when i go out or we having a day out next day as he comes too to give me a break but then again the council knew how many ppl were moving in when we applied and if it came to that i would find a way to buy the house to prevent moving to a smaller property as this isnt big anyway just has 3 bedrooms
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