MP Helen Hayes has called for the government to lift the Local Housing Allowance cap.
Doing so would have an instant impact on the ability of hundreds of households to sustain their private sector tenancy, the Dulwich and West Norwood MP told a debate in the House of Commons.
“The Government must also commit to the full implementation of the Homelessness Reduction Act, with funding at the level that councils require.
“They must also make funding available to councils and housing associations to address the supply shortfall in the short term.
“The Government’s commitment to funding for that Act extends for only two years – without a commitment to fund at the extent that is needed all that good work will quickly be lost.
“Every week in my surgeries, I see families who are at their wits’ end, living in accommodation that is overcrowded, damp and sometimes shared with strangers.
“Their experiences are among the most harrowing and distressing I hear. “I think of my constituent who lives in a single room with her two-year-old daughter, sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities with other residents she does not know, some of whom cause disturbance and smoke cannabis on the landing outside her room.
“I think of the woman who, while she was pregnant, was placed in a studio flat with no running water, where she remained after the birth of her child, with the only alternatives available at the time for a mother and new-born baby being a mixed-sex hostel, or accommodation a long way from her family and support network.
“I also think of the couple who live with their three children, two of whom have sickle cell disease, in accommodation that is damp, cold and mouldy—conditions that precipitate frequent sickle cell crises and make it impossible to manage this painful condition effectively.
“The conditions in which these constituents are forced to live are distressing enough, but these people also suffer the profound psychological consequences of living in insecurity without a permanent home, being unable to put down roots, and often travelling a long way to maintain employment and supportive relationships, particularly with their children’s school.
“The Government are perpetuating the problem, most notably due to the LHA (Local Housing Allowance) cap and universal credit.
“The public sector funds that are being spent on poor temporary accommodation could be used instead to sustain private tenancies and prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. “This would deliver much better outcomes.”
Responding to Helen Hayes’ comments that the Government’s commitment to funding for the Housing Revenue Act extends for only two years and that without a commitment to fund at the extent that is needed all that good work would quickly be lost, Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government) said:
“As the hon. Lady knows, we have invested £72 million in funding for the 2017 Act. “The Act is coming into force in April, but we are putting a significant amount of that funding into councils earlier, so that they can gear up for the new Act.
“She will know, from being heavily involved in the Bill Committee and through the process of the legislation—I commend her for that—that the Government have committed to reviewing the new burdens funding that is being provided within two years of the Act’s implementation.”
Source: TheyWorkForYou Temporary Accommodation– in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 7th November 2017.