William Eichler 20 November 2019

Families forced into homelessness by ‘unaffordable’ housing

Families forced into homelessness by ‘unaffordable’ housing image

A charity has warned that families are being pushed into homelessness as new figures reveal that nine in 10 homes are unaffordable to families relying on housing benefit.

New data from Crisis have revealed that fewer than 10% of homes are affordable to small families needing housing benefit in one third of areas across Britain.

The charity, which focuses on homelessness, warned that the housing affordability crisis is driving families into homelessness and forcing them to live in emergency or temporary accommodation.

Staying in emergency or unsuitable temporary accommodation, such as hostels and B&BS, affects 61,000 out of the 170,000 families and individuals experiencing the worst forms of homelessness in Great Britain.

Government statistics show that since 2011, the number of children in temporary accommodation has risen by 81% as councils struggle to find affordable, safe homes for families.

‘We constantly hear how the severe lack of affordable homes is leaving families going without food, missing bill payments and ultimately, being pushed into homelessness,’ said Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis.

‘We need to see action if we are to prevent thousands of people from losing their homes. The next Government cannot ignore the widespread public desire to change the system – it must do all it can to make sure everyone has a home they can afford.’

Responding to Crisis’ research, the think tank Reform urged the next Government to scrap Right to Buy and Help to Buy to boost investment in social housing.

‘The housing benefit system is not working for claimants or for taxpayers. The over-reliance on the private rental market is funnelling billions to private landlords while leaving too many families unable to pay their rent,’ said Reform welfare researcher, Imogen Farhan.

‘The next Government must fundamentally change the way public money is spent on housing. It costs 23% more to house someone in the private rented sector than social housing.

‘In the last five years, Government has spent over £3.9bn on Right to Buy, which has subsidised the sale of much-needed social housing, and £10.9 billion on Help to Buy, which has largely been wasted on well-off first-time buyers. These schemes should be scrapped, and the funds reinvested into building more social homes.’

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