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4 October 2008
The government has given details of plans to provide temporary ‘support’ to claimants during the credit crunch which will lead to some sick and disabled claimants losing their homes.

Homes for sale signsAs positive steps, the government have announced that from April 2009 the length of time claimants will have to wait before their mortgage interest will be paid via their income support, employment and support allowance or jobseekers allowance is to be reduced from 39 weeks to 13 weeks. In addition, the maximum level of mortgage on which interest will be paid will be increased from £100,000 to £175,000.

However, the government has also announced that, for new jobseeker’s allowance claimants from April 2009, mortgage interest payments will stop after two years, leading to almost certain repossession of claimants’ homes.

No explanation has been given for this change in policy, which does not apply to income support or employment and support allowance claimants.

The move is likely to affect an increasing number of sick and disabled claimants because, from the end of this month, the new, much harsher work capability assessment (WCA) replaces the personal capability assessment for new claimants.

Under the WCA many people with ‘moderate’ health conditions who would in the past have been entitled to incapacity benefits will be found capable of work and forced onto JSA. In a labour market in which people without any health conditions are increasingly struggling to find work, sick and disabled JSA claimants will be the most disadvantaged and the most likely to lose their homes.

As yet, the implications of this move do not seem to have been widely realised or reported upon. By the time they are, it may be too late to do anything about it.