The coalition government's cuts to housing benefit could lead to increased debt and homelessness, according to the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas MP.
The Green Party insisted that the housing benefit cut is equivalent to a “big increase in income tax for poorer people”.
Lucas was commenting on a recent report published by homelessness charity Crisis. The report highlights the social risks of housing benefit cuts, which will affect 936,960 households across the UK who are currently claiming local housing allowance (LHA). On average, these households will lose over £600 a year.
The report also warns that cuts to housing benefit could have hidden costs in the future due to the social problems resulting from homelessness, including health problems and providing accommodation.
The Green Party cited the example of someone earning £16,000, after tax-free allowance, and receiving housing benefit. If the individual loses £728, this would be the equivalent of paying an income tax rise of over 4.5 per cent.
“These particular Tory-Lib Dem cuts will leave more people struggling to pay the rent, more people falling into serious debt and ultimately more people becoming homeless,” argued Lucas, “This is very unfair, coming at a time when many of these people are facing economic uncertainty or even redundancy”.
She added, “Once again we see the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition’s cuts hitting the poorer people in society. The government could avoid these cuts by properly tackling tax avoidance and tax evasion perpetrated by some of the wealthiest, which could raise billions of pounds a year.”
Lucas, who became the Greens' first MP when she was elected to represent Brighton Pavilion in May, is seeking re-election as as the party's leader at its September conference in Birmingham. No other candidate has been nominated to oppose her.
However, there are two candidates for the deputy leadership - Adrian Ramsey and Derek Wall.