Thursday, 6 February 2014

Crisis Shut Out campaign to help those sleeping rough.

I was recently contacted by Crisis about their new Shut Out campaign.

They point out that homelessness is rising and younger adults are at particular risk. In the last three years the number of young people sleeping on London’s streets has more than doubled and new figures show 8% of 16-24 year olds report recently being homeless.

Moreover, with almost a million young people unemployed, falling wages and benefit cuts, this age groups is at particular risk of homelessness. Crisis note that many cannot even find a room to rent, never mind think about buying a place of their own.

Crisis state that one of the major reasons young people are facing homelessness is because single under 35 year olds looking for private rented accommodation are only entitled to a lower rate of housing benefit, the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR). This rate is based on the cost of a room in a shared house, rather than self contained accommodation. Crisis go on to note that in 2012, the SAR was extended to those under 35, which has created greater pressure on the limited pool of shared accommodation available.

They are also worried that the calculations used for SAR do not even accurately reflect the price of a room in a shared house. This is particularly concerning as it undermines the entire purpose of the rate.

Crisis are calling for the Government to:

1. listen to the voices of people who are facing homelessness and focus on addressing the reasons that young people are struggling, like falling wages and the housing shortage

2. stop restricting young people to a lower rate of housing benefit, which is causing misery for many.

3. as a minimum, thoroughly review how housing benefit for single under 35s (the “shared accommodation rate”) is calculated – so it covers the true cost of renting. It should also make sure that exemptions for people who have been homeless work effectively.

More information is available at Crisis’ website.