20/11/2011 The Politics Show South East


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Will reduce housing benefit payments leave families in our


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2342 seconds


region without a roof over their Welcome to the Politics Show in the


South East. Coming up, could the coalition government's benefit


changes leave families homeless at Christmas?


Already in the South East we have a thousand families being made


homeless in the last quarter. Why super-hospitals could signal


the end of local medical care. And Ashford's Immigration Minister


comes under fire. Thousands of people across the


South East will be worse off as a result of changes to housing


benefit. Research from the Chartered Institute of Housing,


which we can exclusively reveal suggests one in three people in


Eastbourne alone will lose out. The local MP supports the changes,


despite the fact that one in 10 of his constituents get help with


their red -- of their rent. In a moment I will be speaking to him,


but first this report. I'd read the last day of any month


because if we do not pay, the next day they are on the phone


threatening us with repossession. - - I dread. They put us in a room


the size of allowed -- a large lounge. I pay �13 a month, which is


what I can afford. It will take me 50 years plus to pay them back.


35,000 households across the country face losing their homes


between now and Christmas, one family every two minutes. The


government is making cuts to housing benefits. Some areas of the


South East have a higher than average number of people on housing


benefits, especially in East Sussex. Shelter is running an awareness


campaign. It is getting harder out there at a time when the wider


living costs are starting to rise. In the South East we have 1,000


families being made homeless in the last quarter. Changes to housing


benefit are of particular concern in Eastbourne, which along with


Hastings and Brighton has more people on housing benefits been


anywhere else in the region. One in 10 people in the town gets housing


benefit. The average in Kent is one in 14. The Politics Show has had an


advance look at a report from the Chartered Institute of Housing


which looks -- says that one in three residents in Eastbourne is


set to lose out if they are on benefits. Nobody seems to account


for the recession. Nobody thinks, we will keep it down a bit, give


them a chance. It should be going up because the cost of living is


going up. But they are reducing the benefits are. Housing benefits are


available to tenants in social and private accommodation. Some changes


were introduced in April and include introducing Max on local


housing allowances, so that unless somebody's rent is in the lowest 30


% in their area the benefit they will be paid will be less than


their rent. There are more Chinese on the way in the New Year. -- and


more changes. From the beginning of January 2012 the age will be


increased to people under 35, meaning that in Eastbourne somebody


would be receiving a reduced rate of housing benefit by approximately


�45 a week. This is going to present a lot of difficulties to


people, where they will have to consider moving to cheaper


accommodation or shared accommodation. We have done a


survey locally of properties that are available within that price


bracket and we have found that only 5 % of the properties advertised


would be affordable in that case. The shortage of suitable housing is


not easy to fix. Local housing experts say there has been


unintentional shift away from this kind of property. Eastbourne is


less able to house some of its single people because it used to


have more bed-and-breakfasts, which was seen as problem accommodation.


What that means is the fall-out of that is that some people had


nowhere to go at all. There are also signs that in the future there


will not be a mixture of affluent and less well P -- less well-off


people living side by side. There is a worried that people will be


pushed into areas of deprivation with the cheapest housing. -- a


worry. There will be a ghetto loaf reduced housing. We understand the


government is dealing with an enormous deficit but it appears


that they are targeting the people in society who are least able to


afford it. With so many changes to housing benefit being brought in,


thousands of people across the region are expected to fall behind


on their rent, and the problem is expected to be particularly bad in


Eastbourne, where a lot of residents are reliant on help with


their housing costs. What can be done to ensure that thousands of


people across the South East do not end up homeless?


With me in the studio is Stephen Lloyd, the MP for Eastbourne. We


know that more of that -- more than 3,000 people in Eastbourne will be


worse off as a result of these changes, because we have had


advance access to this report from the Chartered Institute of Housing.


Why did you support a policy that is potentially so damaging? It is


never as straightforward as that. One of the main reasons is that we


have a situation in the UK built up over the last 30 years where quite


often people who are out of work and on benefit can live in better


houses that people in work. Something needed to be changed. I


am working very close with the Chartered Institute of Housing in


Eastbourne and the local authority to try to make sure that the


changes are as smooth as possible. In Parliament and I have been


lobbying very hard that the D W P allows as a default the landlords


to receive the money directly. there anything else in the overall


policy that you are less comfortable with? There is 1.


Nobody likes cutting but I do believe the general direction is


correct. I have lobbied Iain Duncan Smith personally about the change


in benefit if you are under 25, that you can only receive benefit


for a room, they are moving back to 35. Did you vote against that?


came as a package and I voted in favour of the package but I spoke


out against that. If you are they 35-year-old man and you have two


children, where are you going to put them if they stay with you for


a night? You might be a 28-year-old on the autistic spectrum and it


would be very difficult for you to share a room. Up to now you would


be able to have a one-bedroomed flat. In Eastbourne, there is just


not the right kind of accommodation, there are not shared house is.


don't agree with that. You have to understand that in difficult times


a lot of people moved to the south coast. One of the challenges we


have locally, and by get over 1,000 inquiries a month, so I know the


issues, one of the problems that we have is that in recession and a


difficult economic climate many people move to the south coast. One


of the challenges is that we are trying to deal with people within


Eastbourne who are waiting on the housing ladder while at the same


time getting a fairly regular influx of people. You disagree that


there is a shortage of bedsits and shared houses for people under 35?


I do, that is why I continue to lobby the government. I also want


more flexibility. You simply can't have a plumber working hard and


only able to afford a certain rent, and a family down the road


receiving more in benefits. At �20 billion the cost is enormous. --


�20 billion a year. Why doesn't the Government go further? If you have


one in 10 people in your constituency on housing benefits,


you could have gone further. don't think that is being realistic.


I think moving from 25-35 is unrealistic. I think it needs more


realistic. -- more thought. The Housing Trust are working hard and


they hope to have access to just... What happens when be discretionary


won't -- money runs out? reality is we don't want people to


lose their homes. The local authority still has a


responsibility to look after them. They will not be hurled onto the


street. I do think it is the right direction of travel, I just want


the government to be more flexible. I am hopeful that we would get a


bit of movement on that. Stephen Lloyd will join us on our next


subject. There is a campaign to reopen a local hospital. Stephen


Lloyd is fighting a proposal to close wards at Eastbourne Hospital.


Is there anybody in your field to disagrees, who thinks the district


hospitals are the future? There is a consensus that some things need


to be done in bigger hospitals. Some kinds of specialised surgery


for very young people, for cancer, the kind of high quality services


which need to be done in specialised centres. That does not


mean there are not going to be local services but a hospital that


used to do everything needs to start doing different things. It is


a question of how we can get changed in the health service but


it is difficult to deliver this locally because people see service


is going and they feel that they are losing them. Stephen Lloyd, you


are running scared of the truth, the medical consensus we heard


their -- and there is that there is better care in larger hospitals.


You are scared of losing votes, aren't you? Unfortunately for Ruth,


what she will not know is that locally there are exceptions to the


rule. The breeze and his that we had a campaign around closing


maternity a few years ago. -- the exception is. The road travel time


from Eastbourne to Hastings was unacceptable for maternity. The


manager's decision was overturned. I suspect they are trying to bring


it back but if anything the roads have got worse. I understand her.,


in areas like Oncology there are advantages to having a specialised


unit. -- her point. People do appreciate having a local hospital


because it is part of the community Gloup. I do not think one or the


other is 100 % right or wrong. But you have to take an independent


view of the hospital. You see that there is an argument for a super-


hospitals across the country but you are not convinced of the


argument in your constituency. What about the Conquest in Hastings?


local MPs were in partnership with us a few years ago. The problem


with biggest is best, which has been post for quite a few years ago,


from a hospital perspective, is that it may sometimes look


appropriate on paper and clinically... All of the medical


experts agree about that. disagree, because one of the things


that has changed in the last few years is the blanket approval that


biggest is best... Let's go back to Ruth and see... An interesting


article in the Guardian says that if you are going to move towards


centralising services, you have to and -- carried the public would be.


It seems that they think that all of the arguments are about money.


There are lots of different issues here big -- and I can't comment on


a local case. I think all the clinical evidence needs to be


weighed about the local needs and the local needs are obviously


difficult -- different in different areas. You will have older mothers


in some areas, who will need different care. The discussion has


to be had locally. But the difficulty is that if in an area


and Max Dunn is preserved and Kit - - and maternity services are not


cut, something else will be cut. -- and in -- if in an area and and --


an accident mack is preserved. Of - - we need to release the money to


start preventing some of this ill- health in the first place. That is


a much bigger debate that also has to be had at a local level.


other thing that frightens people is travelling times. A hospital


might have bigger help -- better health care but it is further away


and at worst it can be life threatening getting there. When you


lay the evidence in front of people, for example in terms of stroke, if


it is 10 minutes further away but you are getting better treatment,


your survival will depend on that. If you explain that your relative


will have a better survival rate further down the road... I think it


is important to understand that once the attitude area is over


people need to be moved back locally because that is where the


best care will be delivered to get people better. Clearly families do


not want to be travelling a long way. Both kinds of health services


need to be developed but it is the trade-off between them that are the


difficult conversations. We need to say that we have a cash limited


system and the trade-offs are critical. It has been a bad week


for Immigration Minister Damian Green, who has been under fire on


two France and has faced tough questions about claims that


ministers have weekend border controls. Louise Stewart joins us


now. He is going to be in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee.


What is the killer question? key question is what he knew and


when. He is the Immigration Minister, so it is crucial the


evidence he gives. There has been so much so far from Brodie Clark,


from Theresa May. Arguably he is the man who would have known more


about the day-to-day running of the UK border -- UK Border Agency.


he can't answer the questions about how much he knew, it begs the


question why he did not know. Is he not curious enough about his


department? Yes, and Labour MPs have been making political capital


out of this, asking him how many times he has visited airports,


trying to get to, if he did not know, why not. I think he gave a


pretty bullish performance in the Commons, he did not look like a man


he was worried about his position, but he tried to open up the debate,


saying they had to be cross-party debate about immigration and


whether it had to be more risk led. Do you let schoolchildren through


without questions, for example. The Conservatives always say they are


tough on immigration and it seems like they are closing the door once


the horse has bolted. He said he wanted a mature debate on


immigration. Some people would welcome that, wouldn't they?


Absolutely. I think there is a cross-party recognition at a time


when they are making quite significant cuts to the UK Border


Agency that they can't have the level of cheques that everybody is


fingerprinted all the way through. He has to give evidence this


Tuesday and the pressure is still very much on. Louise, thank you


very much. That is it for this week. Thank you for watching. If you want


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