The head of a national homelessness charity has called out today’s Chancellor’s Autumn Statement as having a “housing hole”.
Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, made the comments after Jeremy Hunt’s budget announcement earlier today, when the Chancellor acknowledged that the UK was in recession.
Government measures being introduced include a freeze on income tax thresholds, a reduction in help provided for energy bulls, and an increase in the National Living Wage and Universal Credit.
However, Shelter has said that not enough is being done by the government to end housing troubles for those who have been hardest hit by the cost of living increases. Mr Hunt is MP for South West Surrey.
This follows reports earlier this year that more than 96,000 houses in the South East are empty, despite there being more than 10,000 families in the area who are in temporary accommodation due to homelessness.
Polly Neate, chief executive, Shelter, said: “There is a housing hole in this budget - housing benefit remains frozen at 2020 levels when private rents have been rising at record rates.
“Increasing Universal Credit will really help people struggling to pay their food and fuel bills, but crucially it doesn’t cover rents which are most people’s biggest outgoing.
“Unless housing benefit is increased, the shortfall with real rents will only grow - swallowing up other benefit increases. The boost to benefits will be built on quicksand.
“The glimmer of hope for those at the sharp end of the housing emergency is the planned increase to the benefit cap. Raising the cap will put more money in the pockets of the hardest hit families.
“The government’s refusal to unfreeze housing benefits ignores the rental crisis that is unfolding, and means that homelessness will continue to rise this winter.”