A government-designed system that is creating homelessness and forcing people to use food banks

Research published by Sheffield Hallam University on behalf of the Residential Landlord Association shows that landlords are, increasingly, refusing to let their properties to those under 35. There are a number of reasons for this, not least that the landlord might not get paid on time or at all.

32% of landlords (of the 1,996 questioned) have said that that they have actively reduced lettings to those under 35.

The situation is more acute for those under 35 in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit. Two-thirds of landlords say they are unwilling to let to this group because of a higher risk of rent arrears as payments are delayed through administrative delays and payments are made to the tenant rather than direct to the landlord.

We used to have a system that almost used to work but then some idiot decided that a higher priority would be to prepare claimants for the reality of work by mirroring the conditions of those in work. He (it was a ‘he’) then introduced a system that has been so poor in its design and execution that people are becoming homeless and others reliant on food banks to survive. It takes some sort of genius to drive people into destitution because of his own arrogant, self-belief.

I’m not going to name this person. Choose any name. It could be Iain, perhaps Duncan, or even Mr Smith. Whatever works for you.

Alan Ward, chair of the Residents Landlord Association, said: “We have already held constructive talks with the Government about this and we will keep the situation under review, but there is a need for policymakers to engage further with landlords to consider what more action can be taken to address this decline. Without this many under-35s are likely to struggle to access any accommodation” (my emphasis)

So where will those under 35 live? I challenge any of my Conservative friends, and I have quite a few, to tell me.

And while they are about it, will they say, hand on heart, that they are proud of what the welfare reform agenda is delivering, that it is a strong and stable system…..

And please don’t come up with the twaddle about rescuing the economy crashed by the former government or that there is no magic money tree. There is money there. There wasn’t a problem when the government needed £1 billion for its friends in the DUP.

One simple measure the government could do, and it will cost next to nothing, is to continue making payments direct to landlords. That might, just might, improve confidence.


“Unnecessary scaremongering” or a serious risk to specialist supported housing

For the last month I have written about my concerns that specialist supported housing is in jeopardy because of an announcement in the Autumn Statement that will cap rents in specialist supported housing to Local Housing Allowance.

At BHT we have estimated that 44% of our supported homes would become financially unviable. Analysis by the PlaceShapers group of housing associations suggests 440,000 specialist supported homes across the country would have to close.

The cap is due to be implemented from April 2018, prompting a DWP spokesman to say: “This is unnecessary scaremongering, which does nothing to help those it purports to represent. The truth is that nothing will change until 2018.”

The DWP has form on these kind of pronouncement. Do you remember that it said that “Universal Credit will be implemented on time and in budget”?

The DWP’s suggest that “nothing will change until 2018” is either completely disingenuous or its spokesman doesn’t understand what he is talking about. The cap, which takes effect from 2018, will impact on anyone who moves into specialist supported accommodation from April 2016.  We are having discussion about whether we will be able to accommodate anyone from April who will be under 35 in April 2018 because the cap will hit the under 35’s hardest.

David Orr from the National Housing Federation, has said that if this cap applies to specialist housing, “tens of thousands of vulnerable people will be unable to afford the cost of their home and care. Huge numbers of people will be affected from older people and dementia patients, to disabled people and women fleeing domestic violence – they cannot go without specialist care and support.”

The NHF said that 2,400 planned new homes have already been scrapped as a result of this cap.

Polly Neate from Women’s Aid, said the cap would undermine government plans to put specialist domestic abuse refuges on a financially sustainable footing. She said that an estimated 12,000 women will stay in refuge every year, more often than not, with their children. “Uncertainty about the future of housing benefit payments is already directly impacting on services plans for the future and a risk to the future of refuge provision is a risk to women and children’s lives.

She said that Women’s Aid is urging government to make clear its intentions to exempt domestic violence refuges from these regulations as a matter of urgency. I think we need to see the current exemptions to capping continue.  Where will women with support needs move to if all other services are subject to the cap?  Many will just not be there.

The next two years will be ok for BHT’s services, but come 2018, there are several services that will not be viable. Is this “unnecessary scaremongering”? I will leave it to you to decide whether you believe the DWP.