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Welfare policy ‘undermines’ work done to tackle homelessness

Words: Laura Edgar
Homelessness / Shutterstock_351803642

New research suggests that most councils and housing associations believe that the government’s welfare policy reduces their ability to tackle homelessness effectively.

The research, Tackling Homelessness Together, was launched today (21 September) by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and the University of Sheffield. It was conducted as part of the Crook Public Service Fellowship.

It states that 84 per cent of the 106 councils that responded to a survey – and 70 per cent of the 50 housing associations – think policies such as the lower benefit cap are having a negative impact on their work to reduce homelessness.

Nearly half of the housing associations surveyed said households being unable to pay their rent owing to limited welfare assistance was one of the main reasons they had to refuse a nomination.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the CIH, said the study shows that welfare policy is “seriously undermining” the work that councils and housing associations can do to reduce homelessness.

“The government has stated its commitment to tackle homelessness, and the Homelessness Reduction Act, which comes into effect next year, represents significant progress. But it is also clear that welfare policy is directly undermining that effort.

“Policies like the lower benefit cap are leaving people with significant gaps between the help they get with housing costs and their rent and this research highlights the direct impact that is having on the work councils and housing associations are trying to do together to help those most in need.”

Tackling homelessness requires a commitment from all government departments, added Alafat. She said it must consider how it can create a policy framework that supports what councils and housing associations can achieve together to tackle the problem.

* All 353 local authorities and 449 housing associations across the UK were contacted for the survey.

Tackling Homelessness Together can be found on the CIH website (pdf).

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