Benefits freeze a ‘huge factor’ in rising homelessness

17 May 19
Nearly all councils in England think the benefits freeze will push more people into homelessness, a study has found.

Nine out of 10 councils think the restrictions on local housing allowance and other benefits means people on the lowest incomes won’t be able to afford rent, according to a joint report by Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The government began a freeze on benefits in 2016, which is scheduled to run until 2020.

The report from the charities noted that councils are under increasing pressure, with seven out of 10 reporting a rise in demand for their homelessness services in the past year alone.

Nearly 90% of the 167 local authorities surveyed for the report said there is not enough social housing in their area for those who need it.

The report found that nearly two thirds of local authorities are anticipating a “significant” increase in homelessness as a result of the ongoing rollout of universal credit.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of JRF, said: “For too many people, the prospect of such a stable home is a distant dream, due to high rents, unstable tenancies and an income that doesn’t allow you to build a better life.

“We know there is action we can take to fix the problem, starting by ensuring housing, social security and work offer reliable routes out of poverty. Local housing allowances need urgent investment, but the government must also take action for the long term by investing in the low-cost rented homes the country badly needs.”

One council surveyed said the LHA freeze has been “a huge factor in the increase in homelessness, pushing families into a position where they cannot afford the private sector”.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “This can’t go on. No one should have to face impossible choices like buying food and essentials or paying their rent, or, worse still, live in fear they might never escape the devastation of homelessness.”

He urged the government to “urgently” invest in LHA so that people actually afford their rents.

Last week, mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham urged the government to declare a homelessness emergency.

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