“Homelessness Shame” Demonstrates Lack of Compassion
As the economic policies of the Conservative Government start to take effect we are seeing the real impact on the increase in the number of hard-working people who are daily facing the fears arising from a real cut in their income and the rising prices of basics such as food, clothing, heating and the cost of keeping a roof over their heads.
It is easy for Westminster MPs and local councillor who are not faced with the same issues to talk about “we’re all in this together” or “we are doing this for your own good” from the secure position of being able to protect their own positions all it has to be said at the taxpayers’ expense.
Homelessness and the threat of being homeless are the greatest fear of all to families and to the development of the children of families who face eviction through being unable to pay their rent or mortgage as they come to terms with increased costs or even worse unemployment.
It is important that people understand what an application for homelessness under the current legislation is.
Homeless and in need is defined under the legislation as,
A “main homelessness duty” is owed where the authority is satisfied that the applicant is eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and falls within a specified priority need group. Such statutory homeless households are referred to as “acceptances”.
The “priority need groups” include households with dependent children or a pregnant woman and people who are vulnerable in some way e.g. because of mental illness or physical disability. In 2002 an Order made under the 1996 Act extended the priority need categories to include: applicants aged 16 or 17; applicants aged 18 to 20 who were previously in care; applicants vulnerable as a result of time spent in care, in custody, and applicants vulnerable as a result of having to flee their home because of violence or the threat of violence.
Northampton Borough Council received 344 applications under the homeless legislation between August and December 2011 of which 121 were accepted and provided with help with 102 being placed in Bed and Breakfast accommodation and 19 in Council stock temporary accommodation.
What it demonstrates is that this is becoming once again a shameful situation demonstrating the failure of Government policy that the Borough Council to their credit is working hard to overcome.
We are however seeing a return of the use of Bed and Breakfast for increasing periods of time with the average for Northampton in the eight months between May and December last year being 34.4 days. This is an increase from the previous year when it was less than 7 days and the highest period since 2006.
One of the biggest concerns is the 236 of young people 18 -24 who have applied for help during the same eight month period mainly because family and friends are no longer willing or prepared to put them up.
Homelessness is increasing and is a demonstration not only of the failure of the Governments economic and employment policies but is an increasing pressure on the Northampton Borough Council housing staff as a result of the cuts to front line essential services.
It is an issue that is going to need a very significant increase in funding to prevent the impact of homelessness having a long-term impact on the families and children who find themselves through no fault of their own in such a desperate situation.
Put simply “Cuts in budgets and staffing dealing with homelessness will not be acceptable”