Crisis in the MakingPosted: September 9, 2011
Our good friends at Crisis are doing a great job in highlighting the incipient rise in homelessness in the UK. London has seen an 8% increase in rough sleeping. South-of-the-Border research shows a 14% increase in people living suitcase lives in B&B’s after presenting as homeless. Unless some of the current policies are reversed, things are only going to get worse, and all over the UK. It stands to reason.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, summarises the general housing crisis in his blog: ‘How bad does it have to get? Thousands locked out of any prospect of being able to buy a home, private rents soaring, the lowest level of new house building for 90 years and a growing population.’ Add to this the growing gap between supply and demand for social, affordable housing.
The Westminster Government’s plans to break the link between housing benefit and the actual cost of local rents, new benefit sanctions that could hit the most vulnerable and to limit housing benefit for people aged 25 – 34 to the price of a single room all contribute to weakening the grip of the unemployed and low waged on the lower rungs of the accommodation ladder. (I’m urging supporters to join Crisis in campaigning against the DWP benefit changes).
For those who slip or fall from the ladder, cuts on local authority spending will have stretched, weakened and made big holes in the safety net. (Our Homeless Prevention team are already reporting delays in getting urgent help, such as CAB appointments).
I’m immensely proud of Scotland having the most progressive legislation and strategy to tackle homelessness in Europe, and we have achieved many years of steady progress in reducing the numbers and improving provision and the help for people to turn their lives around. It is galling to see things reverse. Here at Cyrenians we are busily replanning and working with our partners in all sectors of the community to prepare for what we sadly know is coming.