Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Campaign: Costs of the cuts

September 06 2013
How have the cuts affected you? We want to know

 

Over the last three years one word has been at the heart of Government policy: austerity.

Since the Coalition Government's 2010 budget the A-word has been a by-word for changes around the country.

But as well as being defined by financial prudence, austerity is also a word used to describe actions which are harsh or severe – and damaging our communities to boot.

This autumn The Pavement wants to hear how the Government cuts are affecting you. We want to gather evidence on how the lives of rough sleepers or those in temporary accommodation are changing – from the benefits system, right down to funding cuts.

Because we think it’s important that everyone is heard. And we believe that the Government should be listening to you too.

When The Pavement was set up in 2005 we had one simple aim – to keep you informed about what was happening on the streets. And we feel that in this ‘Age of Austerity’, that role is more important than ever.

From this October the new benefits system – the Universal Credit – will start to be rolled out across the United Kingdom – and this process will be complete by 2017. Instead of receiving job-seekers, housing and any other financial support in separate payments, you will receive one single amount.

There’s some exemption for supported accommodation – but it’s not clear cut – and it’s how these exemptions really work we’re keen to hear about.

The Government’s aim is for you to be more financially independent and take responsibility for paying your own bills. This sounds appealing, but managing money isn't straightforward when your life is complicated. We understand that when you don’t have a home and have to move around a lot, then forgetting to pay a bill can easily happen.

Where you stay might be under threat too. In May this year, a court case on the Welsh island on Anglesey was interpreted by some councils to mean they could no longer accept housing benefits to run emergency night shelters. The ruling caused two shelters to threaten to shut their doors, though the authorities later claimed the law had been misunderstood.

Homeless Link – a charity which represents many of the smaller organisations helping rough sleepers and service users – has raised the alarm on the potential impact on the services provided for those on the streets this coming winter.

The changes to the way in which services are funded could mean they cannot provide as many beds as it becomes colder – that’s in spite of the number of people sleeping on our streets rising by 31 per cent in the last two years.

Also a significant number of those who need to access emergency winter shelters are migrants who are not entitled to any benefit payments and therefore place even more pressure on already struggling shelters. And not being able to provide a warm space in sub-zero temperatures could endanger lives.

The Pavement is concerned that a one-size fits all approach to welfare could be damaging to our readers. We don’t want you to feel worried – but get in touch and help us make your concerns heard.

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Rebecca Wearn is The Pavement's Campaign Officer: rebecca@thepavement.org.uk

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