Government cuts leave £1bn funding hole in homelessness services

sleeping rough

A rather enormous £1 billion funding hole is putting single homeless people at risk, new research has warned.

The government’s widespread and ruthless cuts to the budgets of local councils over the last nine years have left their services in tatters, according to homelessness charities St Mungo’s and Homeless Link.

And if the government wants to hit its dream target of ending rough sleeping by 2017, it’d better act now and fill the funding hole, the charities have said.

Produced by WPI Economics, the report – Local Authority Spending on Homelessness – shows English councils’ spend for supporting single homeless people dropped by a huge 53% between 2008-9 and 2017-18 – nearly £1bn less than 10 years ago.

St Mungo’s CEO Howard Sinclair isn’t best pleased, as you can imagine. He said: ‘This shocking billion pound a year funding gap must be a wake-up call for the Government.

‘Councils have a crucial role to play in preventing and reducing homelessness and rough sleeping, but years of cuts have left them struggling to tackle rising homelessness with fewer and fewer resources. If the Government does not act to restore funding to previous levels, it is likely to miss its target of ending rough sleeping by 2027.

‘The human cost of these cuts is all too real. The people we work with – many struggling with poor mental health, substance use or domestic violence – are often being left with no option but to sleep rough. With nearly 600 people dying on our streets or while homeless in a year, this really is a matter of life and death.

‘The Government must use this year’s Spending Review to put the money back and to turn the tide of rising homelessness. It can only do this by committing to a programme of guaranteed, long-term funding, so that everyone can find and keep a home for good.’

According to St Mungo’s and Homeless Link, single people and couples without children are most likely to end up living on the streets as they’re the least likely to have a legal right to council housing – therefore supporting them is crucial, the charities say.

Up until 2009, the government-funded Supporting People programme gave councils ring-fenced cash to help people avoid becoming homeless. However, the present regime saw fit to remove the ring-fence, naturally, which has had a devastating impact on people struggling to stay off the streets.

Rick Henderson, CEO of Homeless Link, said: ‘There are too many people sleeping rough and facing homelessness in this country – we can see it every day on our streets and it is unacceptable.

‘Local authorities have a key role in supporting people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, but they can only do so if they have enough money to fund services properly.

‘Guaranteed and long-term funding for councils to prevent and resolve homelessness would be a game changer. It would allow for focused, joined-up, strategic commissioning of services that truly work. The Government have a chance to do this in the upcoming Spending Review and we urge them to do so.

‘This, alongside building more genuinely affordable homes and creating a robust welfare system that adequately supports people and stops them from being locked in poverty, should be an essential part of their plan to end rough sleeping. It’s only right that people have a place to call home and the support they need to keep it.’

HAs’ merger to create 38,000-home RP

New Homes

Two housing associations are keen to merge, it has emerged.

Yarlington and Radian own an impressive 38,000 homes between them across England – and now their respective boards have decided a joining of forces is the best way forward.

Radian’s CEO, Gary Orr, said: ‘We’re excited by the potential of this partnership, and with the increased scale and reach it could give us the capacity to do so much more.

‘We want to create an organisation that is ready for the future, is a major contributor to addressing the housing needs of southern and south west England, and together we can continue to provide a fantastic experience for our customers and communities.’

According to the two registered providers, they’re currently exploring ways they can jointly develop their digital services, improving the lives of their many residents.

Caroline Moore, Yarlington’s managing director, said: ‘Our aim for the new organisation is to be a fantastic place for people to work, to develop and to progress careers.

‘The colleague experience is a key part of our future vision.

‘Working together, a new organisation would also be able to achieve more for its customers and towards helping to solve the housing crisis than either could do alone.’

MPs demand: No more ‘No DSS’ ads

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‘No DSS’ clauses on rental properties could be on the way out, if MPs get their way.

Yesterday, the Commons work and pensions select committee quizzed, among others, the director of online lettings behemoth Your Move, which last month ran an ad that actually said ‘No DSS. Small dogs considered’.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler has claimed she wants to get rid of the ads, but so far no dice.

Anyway, the committee’s hearing also received input from the likes of Your Rent and Hunters, agents that claim to be opposed to ‘no DSS’ ads but which still run them.

According to housing charity Shelter, ‘no DSS’ ads are in breach of equality laws because they disproportionately affects women and people with disabilities.

Frank Field MP, the committee’s chairman, said: ‘If we are serious about this we have to get lenders and insurers to stop the discrimination.’

Curiously socially-conscious ex-Tory Heidi Allen MP added. ‘It is clearly dysfunctional and not working for huge swathes of those people on benefits.’

Meanwhile, Croydon renter Philippa Lalor went further, claiming that in ‘the 1950s it used to be no blacks, no Irish, no dogs. Now we have “no DSS”. It is in the shop window.’

And things are changing it seems. Property website Zoopla has already pledged to ban carry ‘no DSS’ ads, while NatWest, the Co-op Bank and Nationwide have also committed to abolishing such demands from their loan agreements.

 

 

11m adults to lose or gain money under Universal Credit

business woman hand holding coins puting in glass. concept finance and accounting saving

Ever wondered how many people will either lose out or gain under Universal Credit (UC)? Well, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) did and this is what it found out…

According to the IFS’s research, 11m adults will see their money go up or down under the government’s flagship reform of the benefits system, though by this stage in the game ‘reform’ is a pretty wacky way of putting it.

Apparently, when UC is fully rolled out in 2024 (which if it’s passage into the world so far is anything to go by, is far from certain) around 2m people will be £1,000 worse off a year, with self-employed on below average incomes and low-income families with little savings among the biggest losers.

The IFS says that UC disproportionately reduces incomes among poorer adults, with those in the lowest-income 10% of the population on average losing the most – a 1.9% fall in their income, equivalent to £150 per year per adult.

Tom Waters, an IFS research economist, said: ‘The biggest losses experienced because of the switch are mostly down to a small number of specific choices the government has made about universal credit’s design, such as its treatment of the low-income self-employed and people with financial assets.

‘Many of those very large losses do turn out to be temporary for those concerned.

‘However, even when measuring people’s incomes over relatively long periods, universal credit still hits the persistently poor the hardest on average.’

So, poor old UC gets yet another savaging. Will there ever be any good news? IFS report here.

 

 

Labour to scrap developers’ social housing dodge / tiny homes rules

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The next Labour government – should there be one, of course – will abolish rules that allow developers to avoid building social housing and instead create ‘slum housing’, or so the currently not-in-power Labour party has promised.

Introduced in 2013 by the Tory-led coalition, permitted development rights allow housebuilders to circumvent normal planning rules and local authorities when converting former commercial spaces into homes.

The handy loophole alleviates builders of the demand to supply new affordable homes while simultaneously gifting them the strange right to avoid normal space standards, and are thus free to construct flats that are only a few feet wide should they wish.

The Tories and their Lib Dem underlings introduced the rules to give a quick fix to housebuilding figures – however, like much of the coalition’s oeuvre, the plan seems to have backfired/failed miserably, with the local Government Association estimating that over 10,000 affordable homes have been lost to the literally dodgy rules in the last three years.

Meanwhile, in another damning blow, research by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reveals that permitted development rights have ‘allowed extremely poor-quality housing to be developed’, with only 30% of homes created via the rules meeting space standards.

Since 2015, 42,000 housing units have been birthed in former commercial buildings.

According to John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, the Tories’ ‘permitted development rules have created a get-out clause for developers to dodge affordable homes requirements and build slum housing’.

The MP added: ‘To fix the housing crisis, we need more genuinely affordable, high-quality homes. This Conservative housing free-for-all gives developers a free hand to build what they want but ignore what local communities need.

‘Labour will give local people control over the housing that gets built in their area and ensure developers build the low-cost, high-quality homes that the country needs.’

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