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The Government's housing benefit cuts will increase homelessness, says major charity

The measures were confirmed by the Government yesterday

Jon Stone
Thursday 09 July 2015 15:54 BST
A person sleep rough
A person sleep rough

Cuts to housing benefit announced in George Osborne’s budget are likely to increase homelessness, a major charity has said.

Crisis, which was founded in the late 1960s by leading Conservatives, said the Government’s policies would drive people out of their houses.

“These short-sighted cuts to housing benefit are likely to push more and more people into homelessness and could end up costing the taxpayer even more than they save,” said Jon Sparkes, the organisation’s chief executive.

“We are particularly worried about cuts to housing benefit for 18-21s. Under-25s already make up a third of homeless people and there is a real danger these changes could make things even worse,”

“For many young people, living with their parents simply isn’t an option. Housing benefit can mean keeping a roof over their heads while they look for work and get their lives back on track.”

The organisation said the Government’s general four-year freeze in housing benefit, as part of a wider freeze in working age benefits, would also have a negative impact.

According to Government statistics, homelessness rose from 1,768 in 2010 to 2,744 by 2014, the last year with full statistics on record.

The rise means rough sleeping in England has risen by more than half – 55% – while David Cameron has been Prime Minister.

But the situation could be even worse after a Cambridge University study found that the real figure could be more than three times that recorded in official statistics.

Last month leading charities warned that the UK is “sleepwalking into a homelessness crisis” as the number of households in temporary accommodation reached almost 65,000.

The charity welcomed planned exemptions to the cuts for some vulnerable people but said people could “slip through the net”.

The warning comes days after a Scottish Parliament committee warned that Iain Duncan Smith’s benefit cuts would particularly affect women – including those affected by domestic violence, refugees, and line parents.

“The Committee believes that the cumulative impact of the reforms has had a damaging and disproportionate impact on women,” the Welfare Reform Committee’s report read.

Despite the reality of a rise in homelessness, the Government has been reticent to acknowledge the situation.

In April David Cameron claimed in an interview with BBC Radio 1 that the number of homeless people was “down under this government”.

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