Government welfare reforms and housing policies are driving up homelessness, with young people and families hit hardest, according to an article in ‘Inside Housing’ which reports on a detailed study of homelessness published by charity Crisis and produced by Heriot-Watt University and the University of York.
“Findings from the second year of the five-year Homelessness monitor study have been released this evening, and present a concerning picture of the interaction between housing policy and welfare reforms.
The report notes ‘almost all aspects of the coalition government’s welfare reforms have problematic implications for homelessness’, and that moves to limit social housing tenancies and increase affordable rents will ‘weaken the [social housing] sector’s safety net function’.
It says the private rented sector is increasingly both a cause and the solution to homelessness, but adds: ‘The extent to which the private rented sector can be used to house those who are homeless and/or on low incomes is heavily dependent on housing benefit and will therefore be fundamentally shaped by the government’s welfare reforms.’
It warns there will be a sharp rise in youth homelessness if the government pushes ahead with plans to remove housing benefit for under-25s.
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to give further detail of cuts to benefits in his autumn statement tomorrow, although some reports have suggested plans to remove housing benefit for under-25s will not be included.
In response to the report Crisis called on the government to withdraw the plans to cut housing benefit for under-25s, reverse other cuts to housing benefit, ‘invest substantially’ in new social and affordable housing, and reform the private rented sector.
Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘The coalition is sweeping away the safety nets that have traditionally saved people from the horrors of homelessness. Housing benefit, the duties of local councils and the security and availability of social housing are all being cut back.
‘Young people are already bearing a disproportionate burden of the cuts and economic downturn, yet the government seems set to increase the pressure by abolishing housing benefit for under-25s.
‘The research is clear – if we carry on like this, rising rates of homelessness will accelerate – a disaster for those directly affected, and bad for us all.’
The summary of the report published this evening covers Great Britain, with separate reports on England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow.”