Just take the measure to cut housing benefit by 10 per cent for anyone on the dole for more than a year.
The crackdown on the workshy only raises around £100m a year. But it is as tough as nails. It basically delivers an ultimatum to hundreds of thousands of long term unemployed: find a job or move house. This is the Cameroon version of “on yer bike”.
The average local housing allowance claim is around £110 while the average for social housing benfit is around £90. So the measure will basically knock £10 a week, or £500 a year, off the income of a JSA claimant living on £67 a week.
For those without kids or the ability to rely on the income of a partner, this will mean they’ll struggle to stay in their homes. Being forced to move also raises all sorts of administrative complications (with waiting lists and benefit switches) that I’m sure the Treasury haven’t fully considered.
Working back from the Treasury figures, it looks like around 200,000 people will be affected for at least a year. The Treasury put the figure affected for at least a month even higher, saying one sixth of all housing benefit recipients will be hit.
Sure, it is an incentive to move to a part of the country where they’ll find more work. Opinion polls show there’s lots of appetite for cracking down on benefit scroungers. But the coalition can hardly claim this measure is cuddly and progressive.