Homeless alert in Leeds over care cuts

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Proposed housing benefit cuts have been described as a ‘genuine concern’ for homeless charities in Leeds.

Caring for Life, in Otley Old Road, Cookridge, and St George’s Crypt, in Great George Street, Leeds, have expressed unease at the results of a Crisis survey.

The findings support fears that many of the 88,000 people affected by the proposed cuts - as a result of an extension of the shared accommodation rate - could become homeless.

Martin Patterson, Crypt fundraising director, said: “If there are likely to be increases, they would put services under great pressure.

“We are genuinely concerned that the changes will place significant additional demands on our services at a time when we are expected to do more with increasing pressure on existing resources.”

The Crypt currently see up to 80 people daily and accommodate 15 people who are at risk of sleeping rough in Leeds.

The government draft regulations are threatening to extend the shared accommodation rate, which applies mainly to single under 25s, to 25 to 34-year-olds.

The changes are set to be laid in parliament by the summer and could take effect next year.

This change will see an average cut in housing benefit of £47 a week for that age group, which is feared to force people to move to unsuitable shared housing in some cases, or face homelessness.

Esther Smith, senior pastoral administrator at Caring for Life, said: “Moving people to shared accommodation will leave them feeling vulnerable and they wont feel safe. Plus it’s not easy to get shared accommodation in Leeds.”

The Crisis research states that of the 343 UK housing professionals surveyed, 74 per cent said that the shared accommodation rate is a serious barrier to their work with under 25s.

Crisis chief executive, Leslie Morphy, said: “This survey backs Crisis’ view that the changes simply won’t work. Landlords won’t accept lower rent payments. We risk turning the clock back years on rough sleeping.”

Sarah Champion MP

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