Arrears have Increased Homelessness

by Mark Johnston

There has been a rise by 23 per cent in the number of homeless people in the UK since last year, making a total of 26,400 people sleeping on the streets in England.  Most of this increase, it is said by homeless campaigners, can be accounted for my the cutting of benefits to households and the recession as a whole.

Government figures have shown a massive increase in the number of people declaring themselves in need of housing, in some areas the figures show a 50 per cent increase.  

Of the 26,400 people who approached their local council for shelter and made housing applications, just under half were successful.  This has caused some concern for the almost certain increase in the number of “hidden homeless” people out there.  These are the individuals who don’t qualify for official help and who end up sleeping on sofas or squats. 

The biggest contributor to homelessness is rent arrears or defaulting on mortgage payments.  A charity that deals solely with debt issues and debt management has recently revealed that there may be a large portion of the UK population at risk of loosing their homes because of debt. 

Approximately 100,000 home owners in the UK could face the loss of their homes because they have debt up to £30,000 in credit card debts, excluding the lending taken out on their mortgages. 

Industry experts have suggested that the number of homes that could be repossessed could be up to 40,000 this year.  And when interest base rates go up, as is widely accepted to happen this year, the number of repossessed homes will go up to more than twice this figure. 

The Bank of England’s Andrew Sentence has warned that interest rates could “quadruple in a year” hugely impacting average households.  In a recent statement, Andrew has predicted that the base rate will be as high as 2 per cent by next year, suggesting that if interest rates don’t go up, it would put Brittan in a more difficult economic situation. 

With the gradual rise in inflation and the cost of living is increasing too, Mr. Sentence failed to argue his case successfully for a doubling of the interest rate this month.  He claims that due to the sharp rise in cost of living, the base rate will need to increase to ensure a control over inflation.  A warning to families is that interest rates are likely to go up to 2 per cent by this time next year.

The latest round of benefits cuts will take effect on January 2012 and campaigners have warned that there will be a huge surge in the number of homeless applications being submitted to local councils. Leslie Morphy from Crisis said “The government’s figures show that homelessness is on the rise once more, yet instead of redoubling their efforts to end this scandal, minsters are cutting housing benefit and weakening homeless people’s rights to housing.

“It is vital that the government changes course and prioritises the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly as the impact of the cuts to housing benefit is still to come.”

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