Extra cash to tackle rising Rugby homelessness is 'drop in the ocean' - The Rugby Observer

Extra cash to tackle rising Rugby homelessness is 'drop in the ocean'

Andy Morris 26th Oct, 2017   0

A ‘STICKING plaster’ and a ‘drop in the ocean’ is how members of Rugby’s anti-homelessness task force have described extra Government funding to tackle rising poverty.

Rugby is to receive £56,341 over the next three years – £18,780 per year – to help reduce homelessness as part of the new Homelessness Reduction Act.

The Act will also require local authorities such as Rugby Borough Council (RBC) to help those threatened with homelessness within 56 days.

While welcoming the funding, Labour’s Coun Claire Edwards – a member of RBC’s Homelessness Scrutiny Sub-Group – said it would not solve the problem.

She said: “The funding will not solve overcrowding, the longest housing waiting list for many years, and the lack of housing. It doesn’t even begin to tackle the housing benefit crisis brought on by Universal Credit.

“The real issue is we need more affordable homes in Rugby. This Government has run out of ideas and this new funding is just a sticking plaster.

“We need acknowledgement of the problems facing people, and a coherent multi-agency solution.”

Fellow sub-group member Coun Jerry Roodhouse of the Liberal Democrats also welcomed the funding, but described it as a ‘drop in the ocean’.

He said: “It is clear we need to allow local authorities to build council housing by freeing up how they can borrow and use the money from right to buy.

“The biggest issue is Universal Credit and the waiting time for the benefit to kick in. People are getting into debt and there is much more that needs to be done.”

Rugby’s Conservative MP Mark Pawsey said he was pleased the Government was providing additional funding to help councils tackle homelessness.

He said: “The extra £11.7million nationwide comes on top of the £950million the Government has pledged to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, which we are aiming to halve over the course of this Parliament.

“We must also deliver the homes our country needs, which is why I welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement of £2billion to build a new generation of affordable homes for social rent.

“Helping those who find themselves homeless must be one of the key priorities of any local authority, and I know our council does all it can in these cases.

“Rugby also has a number of great charities, such as Hope4 and the Benn Partnership Centre, who do amazing work to support people in a time of need.”

A spokesman for Rugby Borough Council said: “The new legislation will increase the ability of all eligible homeless households to access help at an earlier stage. It represents a more holistic approach to homelessness and the issues surrounding it.

“The extra funding will augment the council’s already considerable commitment to providing homelessness services within the borough.”

A report from charity Shelter estimated there were 210 homeless people in Rugby in 2016 – up nearly 110 per cent from just over 100 in 2013.

Speaking last winter, when Rugby’s homeless shelters saw a 50 per cent increase in guests on the previous year, Hope4 chair Rev Dr Michael Bochenski said: “Demand is certainly increasing, and an issue which repeatedly comes up is the complications of the Universal Credit system – in particular this cruel delay to the first money coming in.

“This typical seven week delay is adding to the pressures that lead people towards homelessness.”


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