Thursday, 26 November 2015

Million more homes needed for vulnerable people

Nearly 1 million more new properties could be needed in England by 2021 for those on housing benefit, according to research by Cambridge University and homelessness charity Centrepoint.

In a report published today, the organisations estimated that 934,388 extra sub-market housing units – those for social rent or accessible to tenants in the private rented sector on housing benefit – will be needed in addition to planned current supply.

It said that 137,535 of these would be required by people under 25, with such young people facing more barriers than ever to accessing housing.

They are increasingly disadvantaged in the housing market due to low incomes, youth unemployment and a lack of mortgage finance, the report said, while access to social housing is more constrained and the proportion of young people entering the tenure has fallen.

Centrepoint said the shortage of housing is creating bottle necks in homelessness hostels, preventing such charities from taking in more homeless young people, because those helped have nowhere to move on to.   

The report said that reforms to housing benefit may deter some households from forming, which would reduce the overall requirements, though possibly at the expense of increasing overcrowding or homelessness.

Meanwhile, it added the supply of social rented housing will slowly decline if the current right to buy reforms are successful at increasing uptake.

The report said that demands on accommodation are much greater in the high pressured parts of the country, particularly London, with more than half the overall shortfall of emergency and supported accommodation in the capital.

Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint, said: ‘A combination of benefit changes, a shortage of affordable homes and an increasing anxiety among landlords to let to young people on housing benefit has created a crisis situation.

‘While it’s vital that more affordable homes are built, there are also other ways of tackling the problem which don’t come with a huge price tag. 

‘Local authorities must look at using powers they already have to tackle empty homes and engage further with the private sector, and nationally, government has to review its cuts to housing benefit rates, which has left private rented properties out of reach in many areas of the country.’

The research made use of secondary data and of 10 local case studies, selected to be broadly representative of England overall in terms of population, region, housing pressure and other factors.

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