Housing benefit freeze sabotages efforts to cut homelessness
published on 25 Jul 2023
Frozen housing benefits sabotages Government efforts to cut homelessness warns The Salvation Army
As new Government figures (1) show the homelessness crisis in England has worsened, The Salvation Army warns that unless the freeze on housing benefits is lifted, more families will lose their homes due to rent rises.
Official data released today show 83,240 households in England became homeless or were at risk of homelessness between January and March 2023 – including 27,750 families with children. This is 5.7 per cent higher than in the same period last year.
The figures also show that 1760 households were homeless due to rent arrears compared with 1390 a year earlier.
Director of The Salvation Army's Homelessness Services Unit, Nick Redmore said: "Today's figures show more people than ever are losing the battle to keep a roof over their heads. The Government must now accept its freeze on the Local Housing Allowance is totally at odds with its commitment to tackle the rise in homelessness and is inadvertently sabotaging its own efforts. Unless housing benefits are urgently raised to cover the cost of rent, the homelessness crisis will only worsen.
"Housing benefit is meant as a safety net for those in poverty, but the amount people receive is still the same as in 2020, even though rents have since soared. Our officers up and down the country are helping people who can no longer afford to feed and clothe their families or have been pushed into debt because their money doesn’t cover life’s essentials.
“With home ownership out of reach of low-income working families and a lack of social housing, more and more vulnerable people are being forced to live in unsuitable or temporary accommodation or even on the streets. As one of the country's biggest providers of homelessness support services, we know only too well the physical dangers and mental distress awaiting anyone who loses their home. There are now thousands more people looking down the cliff edge of homelessness for whom time is running out."