Cuts will see an increase in homelessness in East Cambs

PUBLISHED: 10:09 23 December 2010

ECDC

ECDC

"People are going to be put under more pressure by this because a lot of private sector tenancies are not going to be available. We don't know how much we can mitigate this but we are working hard to try."

HOMELESSNESS will increase because of Government benefit cuts, East Cambridgeshire’s head of housing has warned.

Jane Hollingworth said “alarm bells” were ringing at Ely’s council offices since ministers slashed rates at which low earners can claim Local Housing Allowance (LHA).

On average, households will lose up to £19 per week, with fewer affordable private properties available to get people out of trouble.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has doubled East Cambridgeshire’s money for homelessness provision, to £64,000, and increased relief funds available for residents in need, but Ms Hollingworth warned: “In the longer term, people are going to have to find other tenancies.”

Many of the 630 people affected will have to move to smaller accommodation in cheaper locations.

Similarly, struggling residents in Cambridge will also look to Ely as a more affordable place to live.

Ms Hollingworth said: “There is going to be increased homelessness.

“People are going to be put under more pressure by this because a lot of private sector tenancies are not going to be available. We don’t know how much we can mitigate this but we are working hard to try.”

Housing Minister Grant Shapps says he is protecting taxpayers from “house benefit claimants in large houses in expensive areas”.

But Ms Hollingworth said the majority of those affected “are not unemployed but people on low and medium incomes”.

She said: “Because we don’t have enough social housing for everyone, people have been placed in the private sector. It has worked because the LHA has covered their costs,” Ms Hollingworth said.

“This raises alarm bells in my head because if we can’t place people in tenancies, the only thing we can do is get people back on the traditional list for social housing.”

She said “Government money will help” but cautioned that discretionary payments made to those facing hard times would only be a “short-term emergency solution.

“It will only cover people for a few months. Whatever would have happened to them will happen a few months down the line.

“Already we are seeing a small movement of people from Cambridge city into East Cambridgeshire and we are expecting this to increase.”

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