Are welfare reforms exacerbating homeless situation?

Two leading landlord organisations are warning that the Government’s controversial welfare reforms have created even more of a housing crisis for young single people.

A survey conducted by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and the Scottish Association of Landlords (SAL) has found that members feel they will need to get landlord insurance quotes on more properties if they want to satisfy the demand for single rooms the change in Government welfare policy has brought about. Over 1000 landlords took part in the survey but only 6% felt there was a sufficient number of Home of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in their area, a massive 55% anticipate the change in rules will create a shortage of accommodation.

The big change in demand emanates from the Government’s decision to alter the age from 25 to 35 at which claimants can only claim welfare support for the cost of renting a room rather than a home. It has changed the circumstances of at least a million tenants who now find they can no longer afford to stay in their present abode. Unfortunately this increase in demand for shared accommodation comes at exactly the same time as local authorities are coming under pressure from residents to cut down the number of HMOs as they believe they are at the crux of anti-social behaviour.

At least 35 local authorities across the country have introduced or are considering introducing local planning laws to restrict the growth of such properties by preventing homes being converted to shared properties for rent. It is a situation that RLA Policy Director Richard Jones finds intolerable. He said: “As Ministers in Whitehall implement welfare reforms which will see an increase in demand for shared housing; councillors in town halls across the country are using planning powers to restrict their growth. It is clear that the left arm of Central Government and the right arm of Local Government don’t know what each is doing. Faced with such contradictions, the RLA is calling on councils to support the desperate need for new shared housing and lift restrictions on their growth completely.”

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