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HOUSING ANALYSTS WARN ON FUTURE HOMELESSNESS

HOUSING ANALYSTS WARN ON FUTURE HOMELESSNESS (Refuge / Emergency Accommodation)

by administrator @, Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 11:25

New analysis from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) shows that the government's proposed welfare reforms and cuts in investment are bound to impact on the homelessness figures.

Grainia Long
The 20th annual UK Housing Review shows that across the UK statutory homelessness rose in 2010 for the first time since 2003 with rates rising significantly in Wales and Northern Ireland, but decreasing in Scotland and remaining relatively static in England.

It says big differences have emerged in approaches to dealing with homelessness across the UK. In England, two-thirds of homelessness is now dealt with outside the statutory rules, while in Scotland cases accepted under the statutory rules are actually growing. Partly as a consequence, England has made big cuts in its use of temporary accommodation while in Scotland the number of temporary housing placements has doubled since 2003.

However, while temporary lets remain low, use of bed and breakfast hotels - the worst and often the most expensive form of homelessness accommodation - has started to grow again as homeless acceptances have begun to rise. CIH is also warning that next year's review is likely to show significant increases in both temporary accommodation and bed and breakfast accommodation.

In the midst of fierce debates over the controversial Welfare Reform Bill, CIH says that the Government's under-occupation measures, changes to Local Housing Allowance including shared room rates, and the benefits cap, are all likely to leave a large number of people competing for somewhere to move to, especially in London and south-east England where affordable accommodation is already in short supply.

People who can't find accommodation will return to the local authority as homeless, and may end up in expensive temporary lets or bed and breakfast hotels. These wider implications alongside the forthcoming new power to discharge homelessness duties into the private rented sector - including to alternative local authorities - will have a further negative effect on the provision of suitable accommodation for vulnerable families and individuals.

Grainia Long, CIH interim chief executive, said: "Progress to tackle homelessness has been good in recent years, but the latest figures are an early warning of problems to come.

"Government should take a wider view of welfare benefit cuts, because alternative accommodation is simply not available to help all those who will be affected by them.

"It is putting previous achievements at risk and could end up spending more than it saves."


www.cih.org


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