Monday, 27 April 2015

Shared room rate change risks homelessness

A group of charities has written to the government warning plans to extend shared room rate payments could increase homelessness.

The seventeen signatories argue that there is not enough shared accommodation available to meet the increasing demand that raising the age limit for payments from 25 to 35 will create.

The letter warns the 88,000 people affected by the move are at risk of homelessness.

It says: ‘In many areas of the country this type of shared accommodation simply doesn’t exist. Even where it does, claimants already struggle to find an affordable property, with the Department for Work and Pension’s most recent figures showing 70 per cent face a shortfall of an average of £27 per week.’

The change will double the number of people on the shared room rate, and make it even more difficult to find a suitable property, the organisations warn.

The letter was signed by the Big Issue Foundation, Broadway London, Business in the Community, Citizens Advice, the Chartered Institute of Housing, Crisis, The Cyrenians, Foyer Federation, Homeless Link, Housing Justice, the National Housing Federation, the Salvation Army, St Basils, St Mungos, Streetwise Opera, The Passage and Thames Reach.

It says: ‘The chancellor has talked about people making “lifestyle choices” but for this client group that couldn’t be further from the truth.

‘We are deeply concerned that these changes, which will see some people’s benefit entitlement literally halved, will have a real impact on levels of homelessness and will at the same time reduce our ability to solve it.’

The shared room rate is lower than all other housing benefit payments and is currently paid to claimants under 25. It is based on the amount of rent charged for a single room with shared use of the rest of a house.

The government expects raising the age at which the shared room rate can be paid will save £215 million by 2014/15.

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