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New bid to tackle bad behaviour

PUBLISHED: 21:50 05 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:57 03 March 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to use housing benefit to tackle anti-social behaviour is now being considered in Suffolk.

The Department of Work and Pensions is currently consulting councils in the area on their views on the idea designed to curb nuisance.

A CONTROVERSIAL proposal to use housing benefit to tackle anti-social behaviour is now being considered in Suffolk.

The Department of Work and Pensions is currently consulting councils in the area on their views on the idea designed to curb nuisance.

The proposal has already attracted widespread criticism by people who argue it singles people out on benefits.

But the government defended its move saying it is part of a wider government crackdown not just aimed at benefits users.

The proposals follows hot on the heels of the success of anti-social behaviour orders which are designed to protect the public.

Andy Radford, Mid Suffolk's head of financial services, said the idea has raised concern nationally and as yet the council has not made a decision.

Ipswich Council is set to respond directly to the government with the views of officers and tenants.

Ipswich Borough Homes has a tenant group which meets to discuss anti-social behaviour, its impact on the community and how best to tackle it.

A spokesman said tenants should forward their views for consideration to tenant participation officer Robert McMaster.

Chris Foti, Babergh's head of housing, said the council welcomed more responsibility in tackling anti-social behaviour.

But he added: "We would urge that any sanctions, including the withdrawal of housing benefit in cases of anti-social behaviour are at the discretion of councils and not a mandatory requirement regardless of the circumstances in each case."

A spokesman for the Department of Works and Pensions defended its actions and argued that it was part of a wider initiative to tackle anti-social behaviour.

"The government is committed to cracking down on all anti-social behaviour," he said.

"We have other government departments dealing with it but because we are responsible for housing benefit this is something the department has put forward.

"The idea is to consult widely with local authorities, housing association and tenant representatives."

The consultation period ends August this year after which the department will publish a report.

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