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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Wake up call on homelessness

This morning's Observer contains a shocking statistic about the homeless crisis facing the UK, with the revelation that one in four households in England found to be homeless or under threat of homelessness last year were in paid work at the time. There is no reason to think that this does not also apply to Wales and Scotland.

The paper says that data published last week showed that, of more than 260,000 households facing a homelessness crisis, more than a quarter of applications for council support were made by a household member who was in paid employment at the time. In some areas, the proportion of working households facing losing their homes was much higher, reaching more than half in one council, Rutland in the East Midlands:

The findings were condemned by Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, who called on the government to build more social housing and urgently increase housing benefit to allow more people to rent. “We regularly hear from distressed people who are facing the unforgiving reality of holding down a job while having nowhere stable to live. Despite working all the hours they can, too many people have been pushed into the housing emergency by expensive private rents, punishing housing benefit cuts and a chronic lack of social homes,” she said.

“The only way politicians can fix this crisis is with a clear commitment from every party to deliver three million more social homes over the next 20 years. And in the meantime, the government must urgently increase housing benefit so that people on low incomes can access at least the bottom third of the private rental market.”

This is the reality of in-work poverty, made worse by rising house prices - in-work households made up 31% of cases in south-east England and 30% in London and the east of England, compared to just 17% in the north east, where housing is cheaper.

Above all these figures underline the need for more affordable housing, and in England less emphasis on intermediate housing at 80% of market rents, and more new homes available at social rents.
The 80% market rent is a chain around people and councils necks that strangulate the system . A lower rate will give people more disposable income to spend on the economy. Equally if social housing was built to HIGH Standards after 40 years they will have paid for themselves and be making a profit for the country.
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