LONDON, March 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - England will
not be able to keep vulnerable families and young people off the
streets unless the government drastically changes policies that
shut low-wage earners out of the housing system, according to a
report released on Wednesday.
A lack of affordable homes, along with government funding
cuts and restrictions on welfare benefits, has helped increase
the country's homeless population by 6 percent over the last
year to 58,000 people, said a report by the housing charity
The British government set out long-term plans in February
to tackle England's chronic shortage of housing, largely blamed
on failures to ensure homebuilding has kept pace with demand.
Matthew Downie, policy director for Crisis, said fast action
on housing is needed to combat growing homelessness and cuts by
the ruling Conservative government.
"This report is local councils saying, 'We are at the
complete end of our tether.' Their hands are so, so tied in
terms of that they can do," Downie told the Thomson Reuters
"What people are saying is we just don't know how the system
can continue as it is," he said.
The government has invested 550 million pounds ($686.46
million) over the next three years to help prevent homelessness,
a spokesman said.
The report said half of local authorities surveyed found it
difficult to find homes for single young people, and large
families face similar difficulties due to caps on welfare.
Government limits have left people ineligible for services
that few years ago they would have received, Downie said.
A government plan to cut housing benefit payments for people
under age 21 will be a "straightforward disaster," he said.
The government has said the reform is needed to ensure that
those with jobs have the same opportunities as those without
(Reporting by Matthew Ponsford, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst.
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