Indie: B&B ^14%, street homeless ^13% - sudden ^ in UK homelessness

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Dec 14 22:42:28 GMT 2013

B&B up 14%, street homeless up 13% Sudden rise in 
homelessness blamed on housing shortage & 
<>Tory 'bedroom tax'

Sudden rise in homelessness blamed on housing shortage and the 'bedroom tax'

Homeless charities raise the alarm after rough 
sleepers rise by 13 per cent in London this year, 
and six per cent across the country

GRICE POLITICAL EDITOR - Friday 13 December 2013

The number of homeless people is rising sharply 
under the twin pressures of the shortage of 
housing and the impact of the Government's 
welfare reforms, according to a new study.

An annual “state of the nation” report by the 
charities Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation 
(JRF) revealed that the number sleeping rough has 
risen by six per cent in England this year, and 
by 13 per cent in London. There has been a 10 per 
cent increase in those housed temporarily, 
including a 14 per cent rise in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation.

The report explicitly blames the Government’s 
welfare cuts for compounding the problems caused 
by the high cost and shortage of housing as 
demand outstrips supply. It found that the cap on 
housing benefit made it more difficult to rent 
from a private landlord, especially in London, 
and claimed the controversial “bedroom tax” has 
caused a sharp rise in arrears for people in 
public housing, particularly in the Midlands and North.

Last night ministers emphatically denied that 
their reforms had contributed to the return of 
homelessness. But it has now risen in each of the 
three years since the Coalition was formed – 
after falling sharply in the previous six years.

The Government’s own latest statistics show that 
57,530 households were in temporary accommodation 
on September 30, an eight per cent rise on a year 
earlier. Some 2,100 families with children were 
in emergency B&B accommodation, the highest figure for a decade.

The spectre of homelessness is returning as 
housing and welfare rise up the political agenda. 
Labour has pledged to abolish the “bedroom tax” 
and Liberal Democrat MPs are increasingly anxious 
about its impact. There is concern that the 
Government’s Help to Buy scheme will inflate 
another housing bubble. To help supply match 
demand, Labour will promise at the 2015 election 
to double house-building to at least 200,000 a year by 2020.

The new study found that nine per cent of adults 
in England has been homeless at some point in their life.

Leslie Morphy, the chief executive of Crisis, 
said: “We keep hearing that the economy is on the 
mend. Yet as we watch our GDP figures slowly 
rise, cuts to housing benefit and woefully 
inadequate house building will keep pushing up 
homelessness. Shamefully, it is the poorest and 
most vulnerable that are bearing the brunt.

“We need the Government to address the chronic 
lack of affordable housing, take real steps to 
improve the private rented sector and to urgently 
consider the impact its cuts to housing benefit 
are having, particularly in the capital.”

Julia Unwin, chief Executive of JRF, said: 
“Homelessness is the tragic consequence of 
failures in our housing system and carries 
enormous cost for both the people facing 
destitution and society as a whole. To avoid 
these figures going in the wrong direction, we 
need to address the underlying causes of 
homelessness urgently. That means building the 
affordable homes this country desperately needs 
and providing a proper safety net for when people 
are unfortunate enough to fall on hard times.”

A separate survey by Inside Housing magazine 
showed that councils and housing associations are 
increasingly resorting to the threat of 
eviction.  Some 113 social landlords issued a 
total of 99,904 notices seeking possession for 
rent arrears between April and November, a 26 per 
cent rise on the same period last year.  Sam 
Lister, policy and practice officer at the 
Chartered Institute of Housing, said the tougher 
approach was “sadly not surprising” because 
“welfare reform is causing real difficulty.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said: "Our 
reforms are fixing the benefits system. There is 
no evidence that people will be made homeless as 
a result of the benefit cap, the removal of the 
spare room subsidy or any of our welfare reforms. 
We have ensured councils have £190m of extra 
funds this year to help claimants and we are 
monitoring how councils are spending this money closely."

Kris Hopkins, the Housing Minister, said: "I am 
determined to ensure that we don’t return to a 
time when homelessness was more than double what 
it is today. This Government has maintained 
strong measures to protect families against the 
threat of homelessness and acted decisively to 
introduce a more accurate assessment of 
previously-hidden rough sleeping. We have 
supported the national roll out of No Second 
Night Out to prevent persistent rough sleeping, 
and given councils greater freedoms to house people in private rented homes.

"On top this we have provided nearly £1bn for 
councils to reduce homelessness and support those 
affected, while delivering 170,000 more 
affordable homes since 2010. All this has meant 
statutory homelessness remains at a lower level 
than it was in 27 of the last 30 years.”
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