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

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.”

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/sudden-rise-in-homelessness-blamed-on-housing-shortage-and-the-bedroom-tax-9004207.html

Editors note ; The government is proud of making £190 million of extra funds available for discretionary housing payments. There are 433 local councils so that makes an average of under half a million pounds per council. Less than the cost of buying a single family home in London.

The suffering being caused by benefit sanctions

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau has published a report on benefit sanctions, what they are given for and how they are affecting the people who’s benefits have been taken away (minimum period of 3 weeks, maximum of 3 years!) The vast majority of people receiving these sanctions had no other source of income, and have been left destitute and with lasting long term debt. The number of sanctions handed out  has rocketed from around 130,000 in 2009 to 2 million in the past year. Most of the people being sanctioned are on Job Sieekers Allowance, but there’s a sizeable minority on invalidity benefits.

The report makes shocking reading and I recommend following the link at the bottom of this article to read the whole thing. Here’s what some people reported as happening to them because of these sanctions:

Most people had had to cut down on food (70%), and/or on heating (49%) and travel (47%). Almost a quarter of respondents had had to ask for a food parcel.

Some respondents had been left in a very desperate state:

Buy damaged food, market scrounge about at end of day

Used the skip from the local shop for food

Starved and lived off what I had. Scrounged food from bins and only left the house after darkness fell. Had no electric or gas so had to get ready-to-eat food. Struggled and went without nothing for 3 days with just bread and a block of cheese that my friend kindly gave me as it was past its sell by date.

Begged in the city.

Slept on a park bench and in empty shed.

I stopped doing anything and have become agoraphobic.

For those with children, it was particularly hard to cope:

Went without meals so my son could eat. My sanction should have been for a week but they took 8 weeks to pay me again, despite me constantly phoning etc. I also complained and received no reply.

And there were other adverse effects on children:

My daughter stopped attending school. I couldn’t afford the taxi she needed to get her there without distress and trauma.

Other consequences of the sanction

The final survey question asked respondents for any other comments on the effects of sanctions on them or their family. More than 150 respondents took the trouble to complete this question, often with extensive accounts of the serious long-term effects on their own physical and mental health, the social and material impact of serious financial hardship, and the adverse effects on their family’s well-being

The possibility of ending up homeless because of rent arrears was a frequent worry:

Because my housing benefit wasn’t paid for 3 months and still hasn’t been reinstated I’m facing eviction and I’m a full time carer to my adult son.

I’m worried housing benefit won’t be sorted in time for my rent as this could make us all homeless yet again and the council have no homes. Last time we were homeless was a result of fleeing domestic violence and me and my five children were put in B&B by the council in two rooms.

Several people said they had been unable to leave the house because of lack of money:

It’s all getting too much. We are now prisoners in our home, no point going out, can’t buy or do anything

The anxiety created by the imposition of a sanction had a serious effect on mental health for many people. A number of people described feeling suicidal because of the stress of the situation and several said they had made suicide attempts. For those with pre-existing mental health problems the effect of the sanction was to exacerbate their condition:

I suffer from severe mental depression and this has definitely not helped my condition. Still currently without any money even though I am doing full time work experience and not sure how I am going to eat until the sanction is lifted.

I was on ESA due to a nervous breakdown in 2009 and have not been given even the slightest chance of recovery as I have had this constant & losing battle with DWP/ATOS ever since. I stay with a friend who feeds me, but have been suicidal for a long while now. I have now given up completely on claiming any benefits at all, as I can no longer face the prospect of the never-ending challenges. I have absolutely no hope left in me at all.

I had no income, and had to borrow from my parents (who are also on benefits and don’t get much income. It has affected me mentally, and I am severely depressed and having anxiety attacks which I have never had before becoming a jobseeker! I believe this is going to affect me in the long run, and I will find it difficult when I do find work, because I am now petrified of speaking to people. I was very confident and bubbly before I became a jobseeker, now I tend not to leave my house unless necessary.

I wasn’t long out of a safe house for domestic abuse I tried to commit suicide and my doctor had to put my medication up and I have to get someone to collect them weekly.

For others there had been effects on their physical health, because of lack of money for an adequate diet or because of stress, or both:

I had to ask my mum to help me with my gas and electric and wasn’t able to fed myself properly and [that] didn’t help as I have coeliac and my family were appalled that I had to live like that for 4 weeks. My health suffered because of it.

I’ve lost over 2 stone in weight through lack of food.

The stress has made me physically sick with irritable bowel syndrome, which I haven’t suffered with for many years. I have previously battled depression and am hoping I won’t end up back on antidepressants again.

I am a type 1 diabetic and I ended up being hypoglycaemic several times.

We couldn’t afford a meal each day so often didn’t eat for days on end. I suffer with hypoglycaemia and need to eat, so this left me with many black outs, confusion, incredibly weak and sick.

I lost weight and got ill. I felt like a scavenging wild animal, not like a human. It’s a miracle I didn’t end up homeless.

The sanction had wider impacts on family relationships in some cases:

My mum has been taken to court and fined for not being able to pay the shortfall in council tax and is struggling to pay the rent arrears accrued when I was sanctioned and the strain has quite literally smashed our family to pieces – I feel like a burden on her and have felt suicidal on more than one occasion.

The stress put us both in hospital with stress-related problems. We were refused hardship payments but later got this [revoked] because we went to CAB and Shelter. It had a massive effect on our son, who at one point was being considered for going into care because we couldn’t provide for him.

My partner also cares for me so he was left incredibly stressed and upset from this situation due to firstly no money (he has to look after me full time pretty much) and secondly my conditions and mental state became so hard to cope with (it also affected his mental health, he attempted suicide when he could not cope).

At 52 years of age I lost my home and my 21 year-old son, who has had to move in with his girlfriend’s family. We are both sofa-surfing with absolutely no hope for a future of any kind…I stay with a friend who feeds me, but have been suicidal for a long while now. I have been kicked out of my mother’s household due to being sanctioned and I’m now homeless.

This had a devastating effect. I am separated so couldn’t have my children as couldn’t afford the bus fare to travel for them.

For those living with children, the effects of the sanction were particularly hard:

It was so difficult. Had no gas or electric. Sent my children to my mum’s 5 out of the 7 days of the week.

For nearly a month I didn’t get any money before I got hardship [payment]…At this time I was pregnant with my daughter and had another 2 kids in the house…If it wasn’t for my child tax credits and borrowing money I wouldn’t have been able to feed myself. We done without heating during the winter because I couldn’t afford to pay for gas.

I went begging on the streets to get money to buy food as my partner is 7 months pregnant

Many respondents wrote at considerable length about their feeling that they had been very unjustly treated.

Whilst I was on the sanction I visited jobcentre on 3 different occasions to ask how I was to live on no money for 4 weeks? On each occasion I was told there was nothing they could do. I later found out that the correct procedure was to give me a hardship form to help me out. I eventually got the form and handed it in. The jobcentre have since rejected the claim as it was handed in too late. I sent in 3 reconsideration requests explaining the jobcentre was at fault for not telling me I could claim this and again all 3 requests denied…I feel the jobcentre have deceived me to avoid paying out money.

A number felt that the limitations which their ill-health placed on their ability to work, or the kinds of work they could do had not been given adequate consideration:

I am epileptic and can’t apply for certain jobs that’s why I am limited, I apply for 5-10 jobs that I can do, but it’s not enough.

I can’t work, I take 23 pills a day and I’m also diabetic, yet the group they put me on was for work? They have no right to take money away just like that. Totally unfair, I’ve lost half a stone as I can’t buy enough food to eat and as a diabetic I’m supposed to eat 5 small meals a day. No chance. As I don’t, I’m open to foot infection, eyesight problems, coma or death or amputation. I’m worried sick. Also stress brings on a relapse of other condition.

There were numerous complaints from respondents that they had not been told about the sanction, and had only discovered when they found their money had stopped, that they didn’t understand the reasons for the sanction or that the sanction had been imposed unreasonably, given their circumstances.

I believe it was the Work Programme that had been in the wrong in the first instance for not reimbursing claimants travel expenses when they should be, yet I was the one punished for not attending 1 hour of job search when I couldn’t afford to go.

The original sanction letter made no sense and I couldn’t understand it at all either. It didn’t give any dates as to when or IF the sanction would end.

I had no idea I had been sanctioned until I got a letter from the housing association stating that my housing/council tax benefit had been stopped due to suspension of JSA which I wasn’t even claiming

In other cases the injustice stemmed from poor administration which led to a sanction being imposed when the claimant was not in any way at fault:

I was sanctioned for not supplying information regarding my job search. The forms I was given did not ask for [this] information.(The wrong paper work was given) My paper file was ‘lost’ during the appeal process, and was ‘found’ in secure waste awaiting shredding, My file (the one being destroyed) contained information that refuted the validity of the sanction.

I was sanctioned by the DWP on their error. They never changed my address when I sent in a change of address form. They later admitted it was completely their fault and an admin error. They left me without payments for six months and didn’t reply to a single letter and they wouldn’t speak to me on the phone as they held old details for me.

Respondents felt that it was unfair that the expectations with which they had to comply did not apply to the agencies they had to deal with:

The sanction was so annoying. A4E missed three appointments. When I attended they said to go home. But I miss one appointment and get sanctioned.

The sanction I got was for not attending triage…It was them that mucked up the dates and I was the one that paid for their mistake.

Read the whole report here: https://skydrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=CB5ED957FE0B849F!350&app=WordPdf&authkey=!AJTbB-gzwsSCayQ

Britain rocked by homelessness crisis

The number of people sleeping rough in Towns and Cities up and down Britain has soared by up to a third since 2010, figures show. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly – considering the higher than average housing costs – London has one of the highest rates of homelessness with 6,437 people saying that had slept rough in 2012/13, up 62% in just 2 years.

Most startling of all is the revelation exposed in a recent report published by the charity Homeless Link, which shows that 14,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds had asked their local council for help last year after discovering they were about to be made homeless.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said:

“The effects of homelessness upon 16 and 17 year olds can have a massively negative impact on the path their life takes, yet too many local authorities are failing young people when they are most in need.

“Our partners in the sector are leading the way with innovative and effective programmes to support young people and help them get their lives back on track. We strongly encourage local authorities to follow these good examples and act now to ensure young people receive the help they need and are entitled to.”

Leo, who was forced to sleep on friends sofas just a few short months after his 18th Birthday, told Sky News:

“I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Experts agree that homelessness is a complex issue with many different causes including family breakdown, unemployment, low incomes, lack of affordable housing and cuts to local support services.

Campaigners claim that welfare cuts are likely to have an even bigger impact on homelessness figures, as those in receipt of benefits, and who are often unable to work due to sickness or disability, see their benefits slashed and are now expected to contribute toward council tax rates for the first time, together with the impact of the coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ on housing benefit and other welfare cuts.

Campaigners also say that homeless statistics do not take account for the ‘hidden homeless’, and that the true figure for the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets, or friends sofas, could be much higher than official figures suggest.

Government ministers insist they are taking homelessness seriously and have pledged £400 million for local councils to assist them in helping those faced with a life on the streets.

Communities Minister, Don Foster said:

“We have one of the strongest safety nets across the world. If you look, for example, at rough sleeping in London, out of the 6,000 people in the last 12 months only 14 of those were under 18.”

– See more at: http://welfarenewsservice.com/britain-rocked-by-homelessness-crisis/#.Uf6zgW19ak8

The number of people sleeping rough in Towns and Cities up and down Britain has soared by up to a third since 2010, figures show. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly – considering the higher than average housing costs – London has one of the highest rates of homelessness with 6,437 people saying that had slept rough in 2012/13, up 62% in just 2 years.

Most startling of all is the revelation exposed in a recent report published by the charity Homeless Link, which shows that 14,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds had asked their local council for help last year after discovering they were about to be made homeless.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said:

“The effects of homelessness upon 16 and 17 year olds can have a massively negative impact on the path their life takes, yet too many local authorities are failing young people when they are most in need.

“Our partners in the sector are leading the way with innovative and effective programmes to support young people and help them get their lives back on track. We strongly encourage local authorities to follow these good examples and act now to ensure young people receive the help they need and are entitled to.”

Leo, who was forced to sleep on friends sofas just a few short months after his 18th Birthday, told Sky News:

“I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Experts agree that homelessness is a complex issue with many different causes including family breakdown, unemployment, low incomes, lack of affordable housing and cuts to local support services.

Campaigners claim that welfare cuts are likely to have an even bigger impact on homelessness figures, as those in receipt of benefits, and who are often unable to work due to sickness or disability, see their benefits slashed and are now expected to contribute toward council tax rates for the first time, together with the impact of the coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ on housing benefit and other welfare cuts.

Campaigners also say that homeless statistics do not take account for the ‘hidden homeless’, and that the true figure for the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets, or friends sofas, could be much higher than official figures suggest.

Government ministers insist they are taking homelessness seriously and have pledged £400 million for local councils to assist them in helping those faced with a life on the streets.

Communities Minister, Don Foster said:

“We have one of the strongest safety nets across the world. If you look, for example, at rough sleeping in London, out of the 6,000 people in the last 12 months only 14 of those were under 18.”

– See more at: http://welfarenewsservice.com/britain-rocked-by-homelessness-crisis/#.Uf6zgW19ak8

The number of people sleeping rough in Towns and Cities up and down Britain has soared by up to a third since 2010, figures show. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly – considering the higher than average housing costs – London has one of the highest rates of homelessness with 6,437 people saying that had slept rough in 2012/13, up 62% in just 2 years.

Most startling of all is the revelation exposed in a recent report published by the charity Homeless Link, which shows that 14,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds had asked their local council for help last year after discovering they were about to be made homeless.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said:

“The effects of homelessness upon 16 and 17 year olds can have a massively negative impact on the path their life takes, yet too many local authorities are failing young people when they are most in need.

“Our partners in the sector are leading the way with innovative and effective programmes to support young people and help them get their lives back on track. We strongly encourage local authorities to follow these good examples and act now to ensure young people receive the help they need and are entitled to.”

Leo, who was forced to sleep on friends sofas just a few short months after his 18th Birthday, told Sky News:

“I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Experts agree that homelessness is a complex issue with many different causes including family breakdown, unemployment, low incomes, lack of affordable housing and cuts to local support services.

Campaigners claim that welfare cuts are likely to have an even bigger impact on homelessness figures, as those in receipt of benefits, and who are often unable to work due to sickness or disability, see their benefits slashed and are now expected to contribute toward council tax rates for the first time, together with the impact of the coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ on housing benefit and other welfare cuts.

Campaigners also say that homeless statistics do not take account for the ‘hidden homeless’, and that the true figure for the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets, or friends sofas, could be much higher than official figures suggest.

Government ministers insist they are taking homelessness seriously and have pledged £400 million for local councils to assist them in helping those faced with a life on the streets.

Communities Minister, Don Foster said:

“We have one of the strongest safety nets across the world. If you look, for example, at rough sleeping in London, out of the 6,000 people in the last 12 months only 14 of those were under 18.”

– See more at: http://welfarenewsservice.com/britain-rocked-by-homelessness-crisis/#.Uf6zgW19ak8

The number of people sleeping rough in Towns and Cities up and down Britain has soared by up to a third since 2010, figures show. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly – considering the higher than average housing costs – London has one of the highest rates of homelessness with 6,437 people saying that had slept rough in 2012/13, up 62% in just 2 years.

Most startling of all is the revelation exposed in a recent report published by the charity Homeless Link, which shows that 14,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds had asked their local council for help last year after discovering they were about to be made homeless.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said:

“The effects of homelessness upon 16 and 17 year olds can have a massively negative impact on the path their life takes, yet too many local authorities are failing young people when they are most in need.

“Our partners in the sector are leading the way with innovative and effective programmes to support young people and help them get their lives back on track. We strongly encourage local authorities to follow these good examples and act now to ensure young people receive the help they need and are entitled to.”

Leo, who was forced to sleep on friends sofas just a few short months after his 18th Birthday, told Sky News:

“I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Experts agree that homelessness is a complex issue with many different causes including family breakdown, unemployment, low incomes, lack of affordable housing and cuts to local support services.

Campaigners claim that welfare cuts are likely to have an even bigger impact on homelessness figures, as those in receipt of benefits, and who are often unable to work due to sickness or disability, see their benefits slashed and are now expected to contribute toward council tax rates for the first time, together with the impact of the coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ on housing benefit and other welfare cuts.

Campaigners also say that homeless statistics do not take account for the ‘hidden homeless’, and that the true figure for the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets, or friends sofas, could be much higher than official figures suggest.

Government ministers insist they are taking homelessness seriously and have pledged £400 million for local councils to assist them in helping those faced with a life on the streets.

Communities Minister, Don Foster said:

“We have one of the strongest safety nets across the world. If you look, for example, at rough sleeping in London, out of the 6,000 people in the last 12 months only 14 of those were under 18.”

– See more at: http://welfarenewsservice.com/britain-rocked-by-homelessness-crisis/#.Uf6zgW19ak8

The number of people sleeping rough in Towns and Cities up and down Britain has soared by up to a third since 2010, figures show. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly – considering the higher than average housing costs – London has one of the highest rates of homelessness with 6,437 people saying that had slept rough in 2012/13, up 62% in just 2 years.

Most startling of all is the revelation exposed in a recent report published by the charity Homeless Link, which shows that 14,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds had asked their local council for help last year after discovering they were about to be made homeless.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said:

“The effects of homelessness upon 16 and 17 year olds can have a massively negative impact on the path their life takes, yet too many local authorities are failing young people when they are most in need.

“Our partners in the sector are leading the way with innovative and effective programmes to support young people and help them get their lives back on track. We strongly encourage local authorities to follow these good examples and act now to ensure young people receive the help they need and are entitled to.”

Leo, who was forced to sleep on friends sofas just a few short months after his 18th Birthday, told Sky News:

“I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Experts agree that homelessness is a complex issue with many different causes including family breakdown, unemployment, low incomes, lack of affordable housing and cuts to local support services.

Campaigners claim that welfare cuts are likely to have an even bigger impact on homelessness figures, as those in receipt of benefits, and who are often unable to work due to sickness or disability, see their benefits slashed and are now expected to contribute toward council tax rates for the first time, together with the impact of the coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ on housing benefit and other welfare cuts.

Campaigners also say that homeless statistics do not take account for the ‘hidden homeless’, and that the true figure for the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets, or friends sofas, could be much higher than official figures suggest.

Government ministers insist they are taking homelessness seriously and have pledged £400 million for local councils to assist them in helping those faced with a life on the streets.

Communities Minister, Don Foster said:

“We have one of the strongest safety nets across the world. If you look, for example, at rough sleeping in London, out of the 6,000 people in the last 12 months only 14 of those were under 18.”

– See more at: http://welfarenewsservice.com/britain-rocked-by-homelessness-crisis/#.Uf6zgW19ak8

The number of people sleeping rough in Towns and Cities up and down Britain has soared by up to a third since 2010, figures show. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly – considering the higher than average housing costs – London has one of the highest rates of homelessness with 6,437 people saying that had slept rough in 2012/13, up 62% in just 2 years.

Most startling of all is the revelation exposed in a recent report published by the charity Homeless Link, which shows that 14,000 sixteen and seventeen year olds had asked their local council for help last year after discovering they were about to be made homeless.

The Chief Executive of Homeless Link, Rick Henderson said:

“The effects of homelessness upon 16 and 17 year olds can have a massively negative impact on the path their life takes, yet too many local authorities are failing young people when they are most in need.

“Our partners in the sector are leading the way with innovative and effective programmes to support young people and help them get their lives back on track. We strongly encourage local authorities to follow these good examples and act now to ensure young people receive the help they need and are entitled to.”

Leo, who was forced to sleep on friends sofas just a few short months after his 18th Birthday, told Sky News:

“I feel lonely and like I don’t really have a voice. I’m not really accountable for anything despite going to college. I don’t feel like a real person.”

Experts agree that homelessness is a complex issue with many different causes including family breakdown, unemployment, low incomes, lack of affordable housing and cuts to local support services.

Campaigners claim that welfare cuts are likely to have an even bigger impact on homelessness figures, as those in receipt of benefits, and who are often unable to work due to sickness or disability, see their benefits slashed and are now expected to contribute toward council tax rates for the first time, together with the impact of the coalition government’s controversial ‘bedroom tax’ on housing benefit and other welfare cuts.

Campaigners also say that homeless statistics do not take account for the ‘hidden homeless’, and that the true figure for the number of people sleeping rough on Britain’s streets, or friends sofas, could be much higher than official figures suggest.

Government ministers insist they are taking homelessness seriously and have pledged £400 million for local councils to assist them in helping those faced with a life on the streets.

Communities Minister, Don Foster said:

“We have one of the strongest safety nets across the world. If you look, for example, at rough sleeping in London, out of the 6,000 people in the last 12 months only 14 of those were under 18.”

– See more at: http://welfarenewsservice.com/britain-rocked-by-homelessness-crisis/#.Uf6zgW19ak8

 

 

Questioning the sanity of this benefit system

• It is time to question the sanity of running a benefit system which gives money with one hand and then takes it back with four more in the bedroom tax, the housing benefit cap, the £500 overall benefit cap and the council tax. It imposes homelessness because benefit claimants cannot pay the rent (Bedroom tax ‘will force tens of thousands on to the streets’, 27 May) and hunger because they run out of money and food banks cannot meet demand (Food banks struggle to meet demand, 28 May). 

When creating the monster with five hands the government knew there were not enough single-bedroom properties to accommodate people forced into downsizing. Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, told peers: “I recognise that there is not the sufficient range of stock in many areas that would enable landlords always to suitably house people according to the size of their household.” (Hansard HL 14 December 2011. Welfare reform bill: column 1306.)

Meanwhile, the Treasury cut the funding of the council tax benefit by 10% and the secretary of state for communities and local government forced local authorities to charge benefits, already reduced by the bedroom tax and other imposts, between 8.5% to 30% of the council tax, knowing many cannot pay. Disabled people suffer from both taxed benefits and cut services.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

The Guardian, letters, 30th May 2013