Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Government policy “forcing” people into homelessness

June 27 2013
Vast majority of properties are unaffordable for benefit claimants


Fewer than one per cent of London landlords say they are willing to accept tenants claiming benefits – one of many factors that could be “forcing people into homelessness”.

New research by Homeless Link also reveals that only 5.5 per cent of shared properties in the capital are within budget for under-35s on benefits. This comes as government figures show that welfare reforms have seen a rise of 12,000 people competing for rooms in shared accommodation.

Meanwhile, private rent levels have increased by 37 per cent over the last five years and are expected to rise a further 29 per cent in the next five.

The study follows the government’s changes to the Shared Accomodation Rate (Sar), which places restrictions on the amounts someone under the age of 35 can claim. Sar is limited to a maximum amount based on what is seen as “appropriate” rent for a room in a shared property.

Until January 2012, this only applied to 18–24-year-olds but has now been extended to include all benefit claimants under 35.

This, combined with the low level of landlords willing to accept benefit claimants as tenants, suggest young people could be heavily restricted when it comes to finding a room over their heads “potentially forcing people into homelessness”.

Homeless Link chief executive Rick Henderson said: “This report clearly shows that the recent changes to the system have left it falling far below the mark and could be putting many people at risk of homelessness.

“The bottom line is that the housing crisis must be fixed and the dysfunctionality of the housing market needs to be addressed. In the short-term, government must make in-roads by ensuring that more properties are affordable and encouraging landlords to open their doors to those on benefits.”

Howard Sinclair, chief executive of Broadway, added: “We are already seeing evidence at Broadway of the negative effects of the housing benefit changes. People are losing their homes and those looking for accommodation from the streets are finding the move on from temporary accommodation increasingly difficult.

“We can only see the situation getting worse unless urgent action is taken to make properties more affordable for those on benefits.”