Homeless families to be hit twice by benefit cap

The overall benefit cap comes into force today, imposing a maximum ceiling on the amount of support a household can claim, regardless of need.

It’s popular but controversial, both sentiments stemming in large part from its simplicity: by adopting a single, national maximum, the policy ignores the wide variations in rent that exist across the country.

Ministers have already been quick to hail it a success, although their claim that it has directly encouraged families into work was equally … Read more

Homelessness rises as benefits are cut – coincidence?

Two days after George Osborne’s budget for an ‘aspiration nation’, with its focus on home ownership, today’s homelessness statistics reveal the reality for people at the sharp end of Britain’s housing crisis.

Homelessness acceptances are up 10% since 2011 to 53,450 households, 64% of them accepted because they’re families with dependent children. 

The number of households placed in B&B accommodation is up 26% to 4,000, including 1,690 families with children. The number of families stuck in B&Bs beyond the legal … Read more

At risk: one home in every street

Losing your home is one of the most traumatic things imaginable. At Shelter, we have always known this – but even we were shocked when recent research we commissioned from UCL showed that people consider losing their home almost on a par with the abduction of a child by a family member.

And the loss of a family home can have a devastating impact on children. This Christmas, 75,000 children in Britain will wake up homeless, living in temporary … Read more

A return to revolving-door homelessness?

Today marks a watershed in the entitlements of homeless people in England.

Measures in the Localism Act 2011 which come into force today mean that councils will no longer be legally required to offer homeless families and vulnerable people a secure home managed by a council or housing association landlord.

Instead, councils will be able to discharge their duties to homeless people with the offer of a suitable twelve-month tenancy with a private landlord, and homeless families will now end … Read more

Where the home is...

Many a time on this blog, emphasis has been put on how easy it is to lose a home. An unexpected event can throw things up in the air; a serious illness can prevent you paying the bills, the end of a relationship can spiral in the wrong direction.

Put simply, there’s only a frail safety net there which can be easily torn apart by life’s twists and turns.

At Shelter we believe that people who have become homeless should … Read more

Benefit cap: Homelessness threat or success story?

Today the Government lays regulations to bring the overall benefit cap into force from April 2013. This measure – which restricts the total amount of benefits an out-of-work family can receive to £26,000 a year –  proved to be one of the biggest flashpoints of recent welfare reform.

The Government lost a crunch vote that amended the cap to remove child benefit, although Ministers overturned it by citing financial privilege. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was forced to … Read more

Does private renting offer stability for homeless families?

As Research Manager for the Sustain study – a project exploring the use of the private rented sector to accommodate homeless people and those in housing need – I’ve found myself reflecting on how rare it is to see a large scale, explorative research project addressing a pressing social policy issue.

Sadly research budgets have been cut back across both government and charitable sectors at a time when evidence on the impact of huge policy changes is badly needed.

Sustain … Read more

Some reason to celebrate

Among a number of pre-Jubilee announcements made yesterday, the Government quietly published the long-awaited draft regulations on the suitability of private rented accommodation offered to homeless people.

The Localism Act 2011 will soon allow councils to offer a twelve month private letting to homeless households in order to discharge their duty to provide a settled home. During the passage of the bill, parliamentarians and organisations like Shelter and Crisis argued that, given the poor quality of much private rented housing … Read more

Telephone gateway – or barrier?

A fortnight ago the Legal Aid, Punishment and Sentencing of Offenders Act received Royal Assent. It’s just 18 months since the legal aid reforms were first put forward by the Ministry of Justice. Since then, the Government has succeeded in making dramatic changes to the legal aid system.

Not only has the scope of legal aid been cut but the way it’s delivered will now change.

Those in need of legal advice, but unable to pay for it, will no … Read more

The mortgage headache continues

Today’s arrears and repossessions figures confirm that we’re in our fourth consecutive year of high levels of home repossessions. It’s a worrying sign of how difficult economic conditions are – and of just how precarious so many people’s finances are. Sadly, thousands of people losing their homes is only part of the story. There are more than 150,000 households in serious arrears, i.e. more than three months behind on their mortgage payments.

The overall number of people in serious arrears … Read more

Exporting homelessness

This morning was one of those moments when policy wonks start jumping up and down and shouting at the radio. This tends to happen when an issue we’ve been trying desperately to get some publicity for suddenly hits the news – usually because the bad thing we’ve been warning would happen, has happened.

It’s very frustrating to be told that a story is not news until the disaster has actually occurred. Astronomers take note – the media won’t be interested … Read more

Homelessness rise - shocking or predictable?

Yesterday’s homelessness statistics have confirmed what Shelter’s advisers have reported – more and more people are approaching their council for assistance because they can’t find anywhere affordable to live. Nationwide, the number of households accepted as entitled to assistance increased by 18 per cent last quarter compared to the same time the previous year. London has seen the sharpest increase in homelessness: a 36 per cent rise. But as this handy Guardian map shows it isn’t the only homelessness … Read more