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

Time for a sea change among buy-to-let lenders?

England’s rapidly growing private rented sector isn’t playing the role it was set up to play.

When you hear that a third of renters are families with children, or that as many as four in ten renters receive some housing benefit to pay their rent, it becomes clear that the image of renters as students and mobile young professionals is very out of date.

Last week this tension between perception and reality hit the headlines, with reports that Nationwide had … Read more

CPI or 1 per cent rises: The real story is the missing link to rents

As part of today’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor announced changes to the way Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates will be up-rated over the next three years. Rates will only be up-rated annually by one per cent [PDF] in 2014/15 and 2015/16, as part of a package of real-term cuts to working age benefits. There will be some protection for the most over-heated markets but details remain sketchy.

Also skipped over was the fact that this is an additional cut being … Read more

Why the 'underemployed' face loss of support for housing costs

One in ten people in the UK is now underemployed, meaning they would like to work more hours to boost their earnings but are unable to find suitable jobs.

The problem of underemployment has bubbled around the squeezed middle debate for some time, but the Office for National Statistics has now crunched the numbers and discovered that more than three million Britons are unable to find sufficient work.

Importantly these workers are not people actively choosing to work part-time to … Read more

Sexually abused? Proceed to question 7b

Plans to ban under-25s from claiming housing benefit have caused considerable concern. Shelter and 12 other charities wrote an open letter (£) to The Times this week warning of a rise in homelessness if this essential safety net is removed from younger adults.

Briefings from No 10 and the Treasury have tried to soften criticisms by suggesting that ‘vulnerable’ claimants would be exempt and still able to access support. However, this is unworkable in practice without leaving many deserving young … Read more

'Predistribution' and the Living Wage – or, why we have to cut housing costs

It’s Living Wage Week 2012. On Monday, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Greater London Authority announced the 2012 rates for London and outside of London – £8.55 and £7.45 respectively.

All help for low-income families to afford a home is welcome. But reading the coverage of the Living Wage announcements, I was struck by the assumption that all that is needed to make a life free of poverty possible is to raise wage rates.

The fact is, though, that … Read more

Universal Credit and HB cuts: something for something?

What price Universal Credit? If today’s reports are to be believed at least £10 billion more than previously assumed, as this is the size of the upcoming welfare cut the Department for Work and Pensions has agreed to accept in exchange for the Treasury’s support for Universal Credit.

It’s been known for a while that the Treasury is nervous about the Department of Work and Pensions’ ability to pull off the ambitious Universal Credit programme. Rumours of delay, IT … Read more

UC and U-turns: when to start worrying about Universal Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) used to proudly claim Universal Credit (UC) was the biggest change to the welfare state in over 60 years. Attention is now increasingly focused on the department’s ability to deliver a scheme to justify the rhetoric. Are these soaring ambitions beginning to feel more like albatrosses round the neck of ministers?

Labour has been claiming for months that rollout will slip and has now called for the DWP to delay the launch by 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