Stonewater Budget reaction: homeless problem can only get worse

Leading social and affordable housing provider Stonewater has welcomed the Chancellor’s pledge in the Budget to help the homeless but says more is still needed:

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“The £110 million pledge to help homeless people off the streets and into second-stage accommodation is very much in line with our vision of everyone having an opportunity to have a place to call home,” says Stonewater’s Chief Executive Designate, Nick Harris. “It’s welcome news at a time when homelessness has risen sharply. However, more backing is needed to protect vital services offered by homeless shelters, young people’s Foyers and women’s refuges which have already seen funding cuts, leaving many under threat of closure.”

He adds: “Additionally, we would have liked to have seen more clarity on cuts to the Local Housing Allowance for sheltered and supported accommodation. The previous Budget’s ‘stay of execution’ for one year was welcome but we are still left with the impending threat of reduced funding. This is hampering development of these vital services and will add to what is already a chronic shortfall in years to come.

“Social rented homes construction is at its lowest level for almost 30 years and availability continues to decline. Just 8% of the population now live in social housing compared with 42% in 1979. Without more affordable homes, the country faces a worsening homelessness crisis which will put a huge financial burden on the state and leave our most vulnerable members of society – the poor, sick and the elderly – out in the cold and at risk. We would like to see this Government investing in a mixed house-building programme which will increase housing supply not just for home-ownership, but low-cost shared ownership and affordable and social rent. This investment in homes for those who need them most is good value for the taxpayer and will generate significant returns, including reducing the nation’s rising housing benefits bill.”