Monday, 30 March 2015

Sharp rise in the number of tenants struggling with the basic costs of living

Landlords hand out food parcels to tenants

Social landlords are increasingly having to provide food parcels for residents struggling to meet rising living costs as austerity bites.

Housing associations and councils have reported a sharp rise in the number of tenants struggling to make ends meet over the past few months.

Carol Carter, director of housing at 48,000-home Hyde Group, said: ‘Hyde is seeing an increase in some customers having difficulties purchasing basic household goods, including food.’

Hyde became a registered distributor of food vouchers with charity the Trussell Trust for the first time in the summer. The association has since distributed more than 50 vouchers to tenants and plans to work with more food banks to meet ‘growing need’.

Similarly 57,000-home, Affinity Sutton has sent 40 food parcels with charity the Hope Foundation and Bromley Food Bank over the past month. The association has arranged a further 62 packages to be sent out over Christmas.

Keith Exford, chief executive of Affinity Sutton, said many of the recipients were employed people in low-paid jobs. He warned the government’s plans to cap rises in most working-age benefits, including local housing allowance, to 1 per cent, will exacerbate the problem.

Mr Exford said: ‘We are finding an increasing number of residents are reliant on food banks to help feed themselves.’

Bradford-based Incommunities is donating £1,000 in cash and food to a food bank after staff noticed an increase in demand.

Nigel Minto, head of housing at London Councils, said there had ‘definitely’ been a rise in food banks and authorities were thinking about what they could to do to help.

Thurrock Council in Essex plans to make a building available as a permanent base for use by a food bank to help it cope with the greater demand for food parcels. Increased demand across the UK has led the Trussell Trust to feed 110,000 people in the first six months of 2012/13 compared to 128,697 in the whole of 2011/12.

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