Due to a major change in the government’s housing benefits, approximately 750,000 could possibly be looking elsewhere for housing in April of next year. The stringent new cuts could lead to the highest number of homeless people in Britain in more than 30 years.
The number of people homeless in Britain today is approximately 140,000. The estimated 750,000 easily surpasses the 174,503 recorded in 2003, which at the time was the highest figure for homelessness since modern records began in 1980.
The bleak message comes as the work and pensions secretary is about to publish an official impact assessment of the effect of measures announced in last months emergency budget aimed at saving 1.8 billion off housing benefits.
This has been called one of the most difficult welfare reforms proposed by the government. Helen Goodman, Labour’s front spokeswoman on child poverty, childcare and housing benefit, said it was plain the government had “rushed through the changes without thinking through the social consequences”.
Many people in the housing sector believe the measures would disproportionately affect the needy, and that the poor don’t need to pay for the country’s deficit.
David Orr, the National Housing Federation’s chief executive said: “The housing benefit caps could see poorer people effectively forced out of wealthier areas, and ghettoised into poorer neighborhoods. Some people affected by housing benefit caps may successfully find a home in cheaper areas, but many will end up in expensive bed and breakfast accommodation, while thousands will simple be homeless.”