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Tories outline firmer headcount policy

November 13th 2009
Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps has announced that improving the homeless head count system will be a fully-fledged Tory policy. Shapps, who hinted at his desire to alter the method at the Conservative Party Conference in October, also recently announced plans to reform housing benefits. "I don't want people to think: 'since when did the Conservatives care about the homeless?'" he said. "The party has a long heritage of ending homelessness, but we might have lost our focus. Now we're back on track." Shapps has been busy campaigning and writing reports on the subject for over a year, to little result. He estimates that the real rough sleeping figures is around 1,300 for the UK - more than double the official number. At present, the recording system for any borough that finds fewer than 10 rough sleepers rounds this figure down to zero, something Shapps labelled "ludicrous". He praised Boris Johnson's commitment to eradicating homelessness in the capital by 2012, a target introduced by former mayor Ken Livingstone. But Shapps said the increase in move-ons in the capital was not necessarily related to the aim. "It's hard to nail down this kind of issue - it's like proving a negative," he said. "But if the rumours are true, then it's very concerning. I don't think the people running the services - those higher-up and in the councils - are aware of this. It comes from people lower down." Last month, Shapps announced plans to change the Local Housing Allowance, giving tenants the option of having benefits paid directly to landlords, which he claimed would help people manage their money and increase the supply of housing to the most vulnerable tenants. At present, tenants receive their benefit and then pass it on to landlords. If they wish to make this automatic, they need to apply, which Shapps thinks is a warning sign to landlords that someone may be unreliable. "The truth is that chaotic people find their finances hard to manage," he said. "This is just like a direct debit: we do not change the benefit itself. It is likely that some other priority comes up in a month, something quite simple like food or a bill, and that's how people end up in arrears, and it's how lots of people end up on the streets. I've not met a homeless person who is not chaotic with their finances, and I have met a lot." The policy has been well received by charities, which thought this would appeal to tenants and landlords alike.

November 2009



Dispersal zone - a reader responds

Camden closures

Sending 'em back

London's homeless dead remembered

New dispersal zone

Tories outline firmer headcount policy

Big Issue sells office

Controlled Drinking Zone approved...

Bob Dylan donates Xmas dinner to UK homeless

Homeless murder suspect detained

RIP, Gary

Street Swags

Miss Homeless Holland

Free gym service

Homelessness on increase in Scotland

Out of the woods

Bang on target

Still on course

Bye bye Right to Buy

Government backs call for more affordable housing

More rights for tenants?

New cash for housing associations

Poverty figures

Changing Lives Award for Edinburgh woman

Veterans booklet

Street Shield 9: Battling a monster!


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