Fewer than 10% of homes are affordable to families needing housing benefit in one third of areas across Britain, according to new analysis.
The findings come as a new poll from Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals nearly three quarters (73%) of the public agree that increasing housing benefit so people don’t lose their homes in the first place is better than spending on emergency accommodation.
According to reports, staying in emergency or unsuitable temporary accommodation, such as hostels and B&BS, affects 61,000 out of the 170,000 families and individuals experiencing the worst forms of homelessness in Great Britain.
Government statistics show that, since 2011, the number of children in temporary accommodation has risen by 81% as council’s struggle to find affordable, safe homes for families.
As reported by 24housing, six homelessness charities – Centrepoint, Crisis, Depaul UK, Homeless Link, Shelter, and St Mungo’s – have joined forces calling on the next government to sign up to their manifesto to end all forms of homelessness.
Research published earlier this year by Crisis showed investment in housing benefit would prevent more than 6,000 families and individuals from becoming homeless and lift more than 35,000 children out of poverty.
The charity also said that housing benefit shortfalls meant that, in many areas across the UK, there is little to no affordable private housing.
This increased investment in housing benefit was also backed by analysis from the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) – urging the funds to truly cover market rents.
In the lead-up to the General Election, Crisis is now calling on the government to urgently priortise this level of investment to tackle the “root causes” of homelessness, “not just the symptoms.”
Jon Sparkes, CEO at Crisis, added: “We constantly hear how the severe lack of affordable homes is leaving families going without food, missing bill payments, and ultimately being pushed into homelessness.
“We need to see action if we are to prevent thousands of people from losing their homes.
“The next government cannot ignore the widespread public desire to change the system – it must do all it can to make sure everyone has a home they can afford.”
Eight years ago, Les hurt his back and was no longer able to work.
He stayed with friends and family, but when his aunt became ill, he became homeless.
Les applied for Housing Benefit and found that the rate he was offered was not enough to afford the cheapest of rents in his area.
Les said: “I quickly realised that on what they offered me in Housing Benefit there was no way I could afford a private-rented place.
“I also needed somewhere that was on the ground floor because of my health, so it just seemed impossible.
“The only option I had was a council flat, but the waiting list was years’ long. They sold all the social housing off in the eighties, and even the ‘affordable’ rents, they are not really affordable. It’s a joke.
“I could easily have ended up on the street then, but I was put in touch with a charity that helped me. They helped me tremendously and supported me with the council.
“The process still took two years, but I was extremely lucky to get into my adapted council flat this February. Here the rent is very low, so I can afford it, but many other people I know are not so fortunate.
“I know people who’ve been made homeless because they couldn’t afford private rents on the level of Housing Benefit available.”