Middle classes are Britain’s new homeless: State safety nets are gone
As the downturn bites, the numbers turning to local authorities for housing are rising. But there is little help to be found
By Kunal Dutta
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Britain faces an “unprecedented and escalating” housing crisis, charities warned yesterday, with middle-class families at greater risk of homelessness than at any point in the past century.
Geoff Hawkins, chief executive of the housing charity Chapter 1, said the problem was no longer confined to the stereotype of rough sleepers rehabilitating from lifelong addictions, but now includes victims of recession who do not qualify for appropriate help.
The housing charity Shelter, meanwhile, accused the Government of dismantling the housing safety net that helps so many people to stay in their homes.
The number of people requesting council housing in the first quarter of 2011 jumped to 26,400, an increase of 23 per cent on the previous year, according to official figures. Home repossessions are also up, rising 17 per cent in the first three months of 2011, to 9,613.
The Government has pledged 150,000 affordable homes over the next four years. But it has also reduced state subsidy for building new homes by 60 per cent and is looking to housing associations to fund these by charging higher rents – up to 80 per cent of market values.
This weekend’s warning about the burgeoning problem of middle-class homelessness came after a letter to the Prime Minister was leaked warning that 40,000 people risked being made homeless as a result of a cap on housing benefits.