Thursday, December 30, 2010

Number of homeless on the rise in Britain

Source: Press TV

A coalition of charities has warned that homelessness will soar across Britain after the coalition government enforced housing benefit cuts.

Seventeen charities said the government's cuts to housing benefits could double the number of people sleeping on the streets within a year, British media reported.

The government announced, as part of its public spending review plan, it will no longer pay for 25-34 year-olds from 2012 to live in a one-bedroom flat, but it could instead only cover the costs of a room in a shared property.

According to the government's own figures, the reform will see 88,000 people lose an average of £47 a week with many whose benefits will be halved.

The coalition of charities said in a statement last month that the number of the “visibly homeless people” could surge unless the government reverses its plan to cut welfare.

"Vulnerable people who have been homeless, are leaving care or prison … sharing is often inappropriate and can be particularly detrimental to well being", said the statement.

"We have about 8,000 rough sleepers in the country and the government's reforms could easily put another 8,000 on the streets," said Howard Sinclair, the chief executive of the homeless charity Broadway and a signatory to the letter.

The problem is that local authorities have no legal duty to help house young single people. "They do not have family, no real social networks … they are outsiders and they will have nowhere but the streets to go," he said.

London, where roughly half of the country's rough sleepers live, has seen a rise in homelessness in recent years as the financial crisis hit.

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