HUNDREDS of Brent families could be made homeless under new plans to cap housing benefit.

The warning from Brent Council comes after the government announced it would be placing national caps on Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - a form of housing benefit specifically for tenants living in private accommodation.

The new payments are to be limited to £250 a week for a one bedroom property and £400 a week for houses with four, five and six bedrooms.

There are more than 10,000 people receiving LHA in Brent and large families will be hit the hardest and could be forced to leave their homes or live in overcrowded conditions unless the caps are revised.

Martin Cheeseman, director of housing and community care, said: "A cut in housing benefit, which goes straight the landlord, could mean hundreds more families becoming homeless.

"This will lead to increasing pressure on the temporary accommodation we have available in the borough.

"At the same time landlords may be less likely to accept families reliant on housing benefits as the lower rates will make it less appealing."

The council is predicting an annual shortfall nearly £9million in housing benefit in Brent.

There are already about 20,000 families in the borough on the council housing waiting list.

Brent has one of the highest levels of demand for housing in the country and has one of the highest numbers of families living in temporary accommodation.

Mr Cheeseman said: "The full impact of the cuts in housing benefit are still being calculated, but we anticipate it will add further pressure to our already overstretched housing resources.

"Brent already struggles to cope with the high demand for housing, which far outstrips the supply of affordable housing.

"While we understand the desire to reduce spend on welfare we fear the government has not truly understood the potential impact on homelessness. There is a real danger that an unintended consequence of the proposals as they stand will be an increase in homelessness and also an additional cost to the public purse."


The caps to Local Housing Allowance are:

* £250 a week for a one-bedroom property

* £290 a week for a two-bedroom property

* £340 a week for a three-bedroom property

* £400 a week for a four-bedroom property

Anyone living in a more expensive property will be forced to leave or make up the difference in rent themselves. More than 10,000 people in Brent will be affected by the proposed caps.