'Spectre of homelessness even more desperate in rural areas than in cities'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Finance, Universal Credit
The spectre of homelessness is as bad if not worse in rural areas than in cities, a housing association has warned.
Tai Ceredigion - which manages around 2,500 homes in West Wales - has said that the limited supply of accommodation in the countryside means that the situation is often more desperate than in more highly-populated areas.
The housing provider has claimed that every two and a half minutes, somebody in the UK faces losing their home, and that the Government's "40% public sector capital cutbacks will inevitably reduce spending on housing and thereby compound the current desperate housing shortage".
Tai Ceredigion has provided local MP Mark Williams with data and modelling to highlight the effect of the Government's 'bedroom tax' on over 300 of its tenants, which it claims will mean the loss of around £180,000 a year in housing benefit income for tenants and the local economy.
Steve Jones, Tai Ceredigion's CEO, said: "There is a huge need for more social housing in Ceredigion, to meet the needs of local people, many of whom are on very low incomes. These include working single persons and families who are going to be worst hit by the UK Government's changes Housing Benefit for single persons under 35 years as well as the Bedroom Tax to be introduced in April 2013.
"The bedroom tax will affect working age tenants in homes where they do not use all bedrooms. There is widespread talk of people in their 40s and 50s ‘under occupying’ three bedroom houses and that they should move to smaller one or two bedroom accommodation - but in rural areas like Ceredigion, where are these properties? They simply do not exist and the UK 40% capital spending cut means there is a lot less Social Housing Grant available to build new smaller homes.
"This is going to lead to increased rent arrears, an increase in evictions and homelessness, at a time when homelessness and numbers on the Social Housing Register is already increasing sharply.
"Last year Tai Ceredigion more than doubled the number of properties made available to the Council for use as temporary accommodation, from 20 to over 40, but there is a real danger that the Council will be forced to put families with young children back into bed and breakfast accommodation.
"This housing crisis is going from bad to worse and we have specialist staff currently advising all of our affected tenants on benefits, so that we can prepare them as best as possible for these major cuts to their already low incomes."