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Budget must boost funding for homelessness.

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Responding to a new report from the charity Crisis on the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act, Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, has urged the government to address unsustainable pressures on hard-pressed homelessness services.

“The government must use the Budget to boost funding for local homelessness services”, he said. “We’re also calling on ministers to support the measures desperately needed to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place – including restoring housing benefit to levels that will improve affordability and giving councils the powers we need to build social housing at significant scale.”

Lack of housing stopping councils from helping homeless people, charity warns

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A lack of affordable housing is forcing local authorities to leave people homeless, a homelessness charity has warned.
New research by Crisis has revealed that nearly four in 10 (38%) people who approached their council for help since the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) was introduced either remained homeless or became homeless because of a lack of affordable housing.

The charity found that more people today are getting access to the housing support they need, but warned that a dwindling housing supply and rising rents means councils have little to no housing available for more and more people.

The report, based on 984 surveys and 89 in-depth interviews with people experiencing homelessness, found that the only support councils were able to offer some of the interviewees was information on how to rent privately.

Several of those surveyed stated that this simply consisted of a list of potential landlords for them to contact, only to find they were unable to access these properties because their housing benefit would not cover the rent.

Crisis called on the Government to urgently invest in housing benefit so that it covers the cheapest third of rents and commit to building 90,000 social homes each year for the next 15 years.

‘It’s deeply distressing that, across England, councils are being forced to leave the people they are trying to help on the streets or drifting from sofa to sofa – all because they cannot find somewhere safe and affordable for them to live,’ said Crisis chief executive, Jon Sparkes.

‘The HRA has made some good progress in preventing people from becoming homeless, but it’s worrying to see that it’s being constrained by a chronic lack of housing and cuts to housing benefit.

‘The HRA can be at the heart of ending homelessness for good, as this report shows, but this is only possible if councils are properly resourced and have the tools, they need to help people leave homelessness behind for good.

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Lotus Sanctuary Women’s Day Event –

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In Celebration of International Women’s day 2020, Lotus Sanctuary hosted ‘Wolves Women’s Day’ – a day to empower women through shared learning, new connections and a celebration of all it means to be a woman. The day was packed with workshops, talks, live music, stalls and more, all of which were led by Women. We had a great turn out and we’re joined by the mayoress of Wolverhampton, Claire Darke.

The essence of the event was to capture Lotus’ slogan, “Empowered Women, Empowering Women”, something we feel the event did. The stalls, talks and workshops were all female run, again showcasing local women’s talents and successes.

All funds raised go to Lotus Sanctuary; a community interest company with the pure and simple of intention of housing and empowering vulnerable women suffering a range of complex issues. We offer long-term solutions to ladies with complex needs. Options for homeless women in the UK were severely limited, with the choice generally being between male dominated hostels, rife with drugs and exploitation or overcrowded refuges that exclude women with mental health or substance misuse issues.

At Lotus we do things differently. Our residents are housed in either self-contained flats and apartments or are housed with only one other person. This allows them to turn a house into a home and allows us to offer individualised holistic support. After we meet the crucial need of safe and secure accommodation our support is then structured around the resident’s core issues and needs, allowing residents to recover from the issues that led them to homelessness in the first place.

Labour’s shadow housing secretary, John Healey, has said the government is not doing enough.

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“The Conservatives are in denial about the scale of street homelessness, with new figures showing that the government’s own statistics are seriously misleading the public about the number of people sleeping rough.

“After 10 years of failure, the Conservatives should adopt Labour’s plan to end rough sleeping for good.”

UK’s official rough sleeping numbers ‘far lower than reality’

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Labour labels Whitehall data ‘unreliable undercount’ as local councils show numbers almost five times higher

The government has been accused of dramatically under-reporting the scale of rough sleeping following council data showing numbers almost five times higher than Whitehall estimates.

On the eve of the housing ministry’s annual snapshot of rough sleeping, which last year said that 4,677 people slept outside, the council data showed almost 25,000 people slept rough in 2019.

The figures were obtained directly from councils using the Freedom of Information Act. They relate to people sleeping rough at least once during the year. The government uses a different method, taking a snapshot count on one night.

On Wednesday the Labour party called for the UK Statistics Authority to launch an investigation into the accuracy of government data, which it said were “seriously misleading”.

The government’s snapshot for 2018 shows that there were 45 rough sleepers in Oxford. But over the whole of 2019 the local council said 430 people were recorded as sleeping rough at least once, according to the data gathered by the BBC. In Manchester the government’s figure was 123, while the council’s total was 679.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, appeared to refer to the government’s own figures last month when he claimed the number of rough sleepers was “lower than any time in the last eight years”.

John Healey, the shadow housing secretary, said: “These figures expose the shameful scale of rough sleeping on our country’s streets. They also confirm that the government’s own published statistics are seriously misleading and an unreliable undercount of the number of people sleeping rough.”

But the government claimed it was completely untrue to say its figures were wrong. “Our figures are independently verified by Homeless Link – a leading homeless charity – and the UK Statistics Authority has said our method is the most comprehensive available,” said a spokesperson for the housing ministry. “The two figures aren’t comparable and it is factually inaccurate to suggest otherwise.”

The UKSA said this was “a very generous interpretation” of its view, which was that “the snap-shot methodology was limited” and was the most comprehensive approach “currently available in England”.

The BBC data showed places with the highest rates of rough sleeping, recorded as a proportion of the population; these were Westminster, in London, Hastings, in Sussex, Oxford, Nottingham, and Camden, in London.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive at the homelessness charity Crisis, said: “We still do not have a clear picture of how many people are forced to sleep on our streets throughout the year. The government’s own statistics watchdog has long called for a better way of recording rough sleeping in England. We agree … but ultimately we need to address the issues forcing people on to our streets in the first place, such as the chronic shortage in social housing and the fact that housing benefit doesn’t cover the cost of people’s rents.”

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