“Local councils blame Tory cuts for dramatic surge in homelessness”

“Government benefit cuts are to blame for soaring levels of homelessness, local councils and housing providers have said.

The number of people being declared homeless has increased by more than a third since 2010, while the number of people sleeping rough on the streets has surged by even more: up 134 per cent since the Conservatives came to power.

A string of Government welfare changes – including cuts to housing benefit and the introduction of the benefit cap – have led to the dramatic increase, according to the organisations charged with tackling the crisis. …

… According to the survey, 61 per cent of local councils and 49 per cent of housing associations also said the fact a prospective tenant is unlikely to receive enough in welfare payments to cover their rent is now the most common reason for someone being turned away for home.

It comes just days after a damning report by the National Audit Office accused government ministers of a “light-touch approach” to tackling homelessness, and concluded that benefit cuts were “likely to have contributed” to the rise in homelessness. Tackling the problem is costing the state £1bn a year, the report said.

In an attempt to get a grip on spiralling homelessness, Government ministers have placed a legal obligation on local councils to help people find homes.

Typically, this would involve helping someone into a property managed by a housing association – but cuts to benefits mean associations are increasingly having to turn tenants away. …”