Letter: Housing changes will sting the taxpayer

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The Independent Online
Sir: What is curious about the Government's announcement on homelessness is its implicit faith in both waiting lists and the private rented sector. It is hard to see why young families, already vulnerable through homelessness, should be put through the strain of temporary accommodation, unless predictable long-term need is more related to time on a waiting list than to present circumstances.

Yet the DoE's own research published this year states:

The time an applicant has been on the waiting list is highly related to urgency of need: the more urgent the need, the shorter the time on the list.

The same research shows that almost two-thirds of new tenants had average gross household incomes of less than pounds 100 a week. That finding corroborates what is well known. The cumulative effect of policies over the past 15 years is a social housing sector with too few properties, high rents and high levels of dependence on housing benefit. While proposing the use of the private rented sector for many who are benefit-dependent, the Government is aware that the majority of private tenants who pursue their entitlement are not rebated on their full rent.

The whole announcement is so curious, I can only conclude that it is dogma alone that sidetracks the Government from the obvious solution of ensuring an adequate supply of housing at affordable rents.

Yours sincerely,

ANN HOLMES

Director

National Housing and

Town Planning Council

London, EC1

19 July

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