Calls for urgent reversal of housing benefit cuts as homelessness rises

Crisis has called on the government to urgently reverse cuts made to housing benefit as new figures reveal a 10 percent rise in homelessness since 2011.

And the official statistics, released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), show that the number of households accepted as homeless and owed the main homelessness duty over the last two years has risen by 26 percent.

The charity has long warned that the government’s cuts to housing benefit would cause homelessness.

New cases of homelessness acceptances because of tenancies in the private rented sector coming to an end have risen to 11,220 households (an increase of 82 percent over the last two years) and now account for one in five of all acceptances.

The figures revealed that there was a 27 percent rise in the number of households placed in temporary accommodation out of area (in another local authority district).

Overall there are 53,000 households in temporary accommodation (up 11 percent in two years) and 4,000 households in B&Bs (a 73 percent increase in two years).

There were also 7,340 households accepted as homeless after being unable to continue to stay with family and friends, a rise of just under a third since 2010.

Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy at Crisis, said: “Every homelessness statistic is a life devastated. We need the government to listen and learn, reverse its cuts to housing benefit and lead a substantial effort to build more genuinely affordable homes to rent.

“Within the next two weeks, a whole raft of further cuts including the bedroom tax and overall benefit cap will push tens of thousands of households closer to the brink and many into homelessness.

“Despite having a chance with this week’s Budget to change course, the government offered nothing new to turn the tide and instead promised to further cap welfare spending in the future.”

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “This is yet more proof of how families across the country are being pushed to breaking point. The crippling cost of housing, combined with rising prices, flatlining wages and cuts to housing support, is meaning many families are simply no longer able to hold on to the roof over their heads.”

Campbell Robb continued: “We are extremely worried that people already feeling the squeeze because of the recession and benefit reductions will increasingly struggle as further cuts to the housing safety net come in this April. We would urge anyone who is struggling to get advice as soon as possible from an organisation like Shelter.

“We are already seeing increased demand for our services at a time when there is less money available to us to help people in need. It is only too clear that times are tight, but now more than ever we need people’s support to prevent more families from losing their homes.”