Friday, 31 October 2014

Local authorities are hampering efforts to keep people off the streets, charities claim

Councils lock away housing crisis funds

The scrapping of a scheme to provide emergency loans to vulnerable people is worsening homelessness, charities have warned.

Since 1 April people can no longer apply for ‘crisis loans’, which were administered by job centres for essential costs in an emergency.

The government has since handed a £178.2 million fund for crisis loans and community care grants to local authorities, which have replaced crisis loans with their own discretionary schemes.

Homelessness charities, including the London mayor’s No Second Night Out scheme - which aims to stop people sleeping a second night on the streets - used these loans to help pay for deposits and rent advances when securing homeless people private sector accommodation. But since the change charities have found it almost impossible to secure the replacement emergency loans from councils, hampering their efforts to get people off the streets.

Tommy Cloherty, head of homelessness services at charity Hope Worldwide, said he ‘absolutely’ expected this to increase homelessness. ‘There are people who have already missed out on opportunities because they have not been able to provide rent in advance.’

Mr Cloherty said it was a particular problem in London because rents were so high and landlords can ‘cherry pick’ tenants.

Petra Salva, director of the London NSNO scheme, said her staff used to be able to secure crisis loans for three quarters of its service users in the 34-bed spaces it has separate from its two ‘hubs’, usually within a couple of days. Since April it has not managed to secure a single loan.

She said councils refuse loans suggesting alternatives such as budgeting loans - but these take weeks to secure from Jobcentre Plus, by which time a homeless person will have lost a property.

Duncan Shrubsole, director of homelessness charity Crisis, said the loans ‘can make the difference between someone getting a roof over their head or sleeping on the streets’.

‘Ultimately the government needs to rethink this and reintroduce a clear national framework,’ he added.

A spokesperson for umbrella body London Councils acknowledged that since April some clients in need of emergency help had not received the correct advice from Jobcentre Plus: ‘This has led to an increase in referrals and approaches to councils, which are not always able to provide the type of assistance these clients need.’

A spokesperson from the Department for Work and Pensions said: ‘Crisis loans were previously too complex, over-centralised and poorly targeted.’

Are councils doing enough to help homeless people? Have your say in our weekly poll

Readers' comments (9)

  • The situation is not that simple as portrayed here! More interesting news today and I don’t know why Inside Housing have not picked up on this is that after consultation government is bring forward legislation that those on 60K+ living in social accommodation can be charged market rent for their social property.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Peter Wicks

    The whole scheme smells worse than Billingsgate fish market, which on reflection is par for the cause for this obnoxious government...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This tory led government is a shambles ,letting down the most vulnerable .Callous to the extreme and so cruel .Since coming to power they have made the lives of the most poorest unbearable .They haven't stopped picking .Whilst the rich enjoy more tax cuts the poor it seems are carrying the biggest burden .
    People are finding themselves homeless through no fault of their own and now can't get any help.
    Why so much hate towards vulnerable people ? Absolutely brutal ,shocking and childish .Anyone can find themselves in these situations .I hope if labour comes to power in 2015 that they declare war on the wealthy the same way tories have declared war on the most neediest of us.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Daedalus

    Brilliant idea david, declare war on the rich. If you are actively trying to find a strategy guaranteed to cause most harm to the economy as a whole and particularly the poor you have hit on it. Drive the rich and their businesses out of the country and have rocketing unemployment - sheer brilliance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • DE - Suggest you Google "Beer drinking tax analogy"

    This will further underpin the valid point from Daedalus above...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Daedlous...what a load of dribble: you still believe in the 'trickle down' economic stupitity of tories only in this case we should all be so luckly to have a minimum wage job at the largesse of the rich...give us a break!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • michael barratt

    While David Cameron and family are enjoying four holiday destinations this summer, with accommodation in one location costing £11,000 for the week and Nick Clegg enjoying a merely two holidays this year. Others appear to be much less fortunate. It this what Cameron meant by sharing the economic pain? And was the sorry economic plight the country finds itself in caused by the homeless, unemployed and disabled?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well I am not surprised that local councils are failing to deliver a well funded scheme.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This has got very little to do with Central Government other than them deciding to 'de-centralise' the provision. Each Local Authority, many of which are Labour run decide on their own criteria for hosuing support and they could quite easily provide assiatance under their Local Welfare Provision scheme!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Newsletter Sign-up

More Newsletters

Related

Articles

  • Housing ideas on lock

    11 September 2014

    This summer the world’s leading housing academics convened in Edinburgh to share ideas and research. Yet policy makers and housing professionals were noticeable by their absence. Michael Lloyd investigates why

  • Scots councils spend 100% of DHP funds

    26 August 2014

    Four Scottish councils have already spent or committed their share of the country’s emergency housing payments for this financial year, official statistics reveal

  • Funds shift to councils and smaller providers

    25/07/2014

    Dozens more councils have been allocated funding for affordable homes and smaller housing associations have become the biggest bidders, as larger landlords shunned government cash in the 2015-18 funding round.

  • Councils fail to spend almost half of crisis funds

    22 April 2014

    Councils are failing to spend a fund for families and individuals in crisis, with £67 million left unused at the beginning of this year, figures have shown.

  • Councils fail to spend hardship funds

    08/11/2013

    English authorities could be forced to return £26 million to government if they don’t start spending

Resources

  • Job interviews in housing: outside the box

    20 August 2014

    Some social landlords believe a traditional interview is not the way to find the best candidate for the job. Simon Brandon reports on how Bromford Group is using role-playing games to get to know prospective employees

  • Reaching crisis point

    02/05/2014

    Tenants on the verge of eviction are being helped to remain in their homes by a recently formed social enterprise that is saving their landlords significant sums in the process. Daniel Douglas finds out how

  • Housing lessons to learn

    07/02/2014

    With a week left to enter the Into Africa competition, Erick Kabendera reports from Dar es Salaam on the rise of affordable housing

IH Subscription