The new measure will sanction housing benefit where a person has been evicted for anti-social behaviour and refuses to address their behaviour using the support and help offered to them. This measure is not about changing the eviction process but about getting people to change their behaviour and will only operate where the household has chosen not to co-operate.
Work and pensions secretary John Hutton said:
'Communities are fed up of the disruption caused by people who show no respect for their neighbours.
The threat of sanctioning housing benefit will send clear signal to the handful of people evicted each year for anti-social behaviour that they must address their problem behaviour and engage in rehabilitation.
'It is not right that people who get evicted should be able simply to move to another area and continue their bad behaviour. These anti-social neighbours must realise they have reached the end of the line. The right to housing benefit must and will carry a responsibility to be a decent neighbour.
The new measure was announced today at a cabinet committee meeting on anti social behaviour and the Respect programme.
Home secretary John Reid said:
'It is totally unacceptable that the anti-social behaviour of a minority of disruptive households can ruin the lives of the majority of considerate and respectful people who live alongside them. I will tackle this problem with whatever measures are necessary.
'The Respect action plan ensures that a network of intensive projects will be created to work with the most difficult families and challenge them to change their behaviour. For those who refuse to take this help and continue to ruin the quality of people's lives, I believe it is right that the tax payer says enough is enough and stops funding their housing benefit.'
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* If a household is evicted on grounds of anti-social behaviour, the members of the household concerned will be offered appropriate rehabilitation. The rehabilitation will be provided through existing services.
* If the household does not engage with the referral and rehabilitation process a local authority will be able to issue a 'warning notice' if it considers it to be appropriate. This will ask the household to engage with the rehabilitation.
* If the household does not comply, without good cause, with the 'warning notice', that household will be sanctioned when they claim housing benefit.
* The sanction will increase incrementally: a 10% loss of benefit for
four weeks, 20% for a further 4 weeks and then a total removal for up to
five years if they do not co-operate. Lower rates will apply to those in hardship. Those people who are sanctioned will have the right to appeal to the tribunal service.
* The offer of support can be accepted at any stage in this process, at which point the benefit payment would be reinstated.
* Primary legislation is needed: DWP intend to legislate for this as soon as is practicable.
* DWP have today written to key stakeholders to seek their views on the implementation of pilots.
* The intention is start pilots in 2008, targeting around 10 local authorities. They are expected to be announced in the next few months.