The Wallich responds to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) piece, Locked out: How Britain keeps people homeless, which reports 94% of rented homes are too expensive for families on housing benefit.
Antony Kendall, Director of Operations of homelessness and rough sleeping charity The Wallich, said:
“It’s deeply concerning that some councils are discharging their duty to support people by sending them into the clearly saturated and unaffordable private rented sector. As a result, we are seeing rising homelessness and increased fear, anxiety and misery among people who need our support. Our support workers report that the roll-out of Universal Credit is having a huge and detrimental impact – rent arrears, loss of tenancies, risk of homelessness.
The long-term solution is to provide more truly affordable housing. In the immediate term, housing benefit needs to increase at the same rate of rising rents; otherwise we’re just setting people up to fail.
We also need to do more as a society to end the stigma around so-called ‘benefits’. 20 million people in the UK receive some kind of welfare. The conflation of benefit claimants with benefit cheats has to stop and we need a true community response to challenge the discrimination of those who have the least. Even using words like ‘benefits’ or ‘credit’ to describe welfare is obscene – giving people a lifeline when they have nothing is not a privilege, it’s morally correct.
Practically, negating stigma starts with landlords ending their refusal to take tenants receiving welfare support. At a higher level, the banks also need to change their policies, in some cases, to allow landlords to rent to people receiving Universal Credit and the government needs to do more to enforce this and challenge discrimination.”