Stonebridge family facing homelessness following changes to housing benefit payments

Pregnant mother-of-two must pay �340 shortfall or will be kicked out of her home

A mother whose housing benefit will be capped as a result of changes by central government says she is considering leaving the borough because she will no longer be able to afford her rent.

Liliana Brandao, of Selwyn Road, Stonebridge, is just one of nearly 2,000 Brent residents expected to be hit when reductions to Local Housing Allowance (LHA) are implemented next month.

The 31-year-old mother-of-two will see her LHA slashed from �1,740 per month to �1,300 but her landlord has said she will have to make up the �340 shortfall.

She told the Times that high rents across the capital may force her to leave the city completely.

She said: “It’s just not right to do this. Times are hard enough as it is. The government is kicking people when they are down.”

LHA is a grant available to people renting a property or room but who are on a low income. However, the changes will mean that many residents may be forced to seek shared accommodation or make up the shortfall.

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Desperate Miss Brandao says she can’t find work because she is three months pregnant and has two children, Joao, who is 14, and six-year-old Raquel.

She said: “I can’t get a job; everyone says I will be too unreliable given my situation. I have lived here for more than 10 years and am settled here, but I can’t stay with these changes.”

In Brent 1,266 over-25s will experience a reduction in benefits with a total of 1,988 households directly affected.

However, Brent Council is the only single authority to put in a successful bid to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) so it can fund a team to support residents.

A council spokesman added it would be “pro-actively” working with affected households and would prevent them becoming homeless wherever possible.

Cllr Zaffar Van Kalwala, Labour ward councillor for Stonebridge, said the changes will make the borough’s housing situation worse.

He said: “There is a real danger that the new measures will create “ghettos where those on benefits are confined to living in mainly poor and deprived areas.

“Local families are being forced out of their homes causing pain and disruption to thousands of people. These changes are a total disaster for Brent.”

A DWP spokesman said they were not expecting large numbers of people to have to move as a result of reforms.

He added: “They are about restoring fairness to a system which has spiralled out of control and ensuring that benefit claimants make the same choices about affordability as everyone else.”