Housing: PM announces changes to Universal Credit rules
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Shocking figures from Crisis revealed the extent of Britain’s homelessness scandal, with 227,000 households in England alone facing homelessness every night. The harrowing number is on the rise and has been increasing year-on-year since 2017, according to the charity.
People are at risk of becoming homeless for a number of reasons, including losing their job or not being able to find a suitable place to live.
The cost of living crisis, which has seen bills and expenses spiral out of control, is thought to be making it even more difficult for people to keep hold of their homes.
Malavika Vartak, a Researcher and Policy Adviser on Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty, said: “A right to housing in domestic law would contribute towards ensuring that homelessness assistance and provision of housing for those facing homelessness is not treated as an act of charity or a reward.
“Recognising housing as a human right in domestic law would be an important step towards ensuring that the government introduces/amends laws, policies and practice in ways that guarantee access to housing.”
The international organisation believes making access to housing a domestic law is the only way to hold the Government accountable for Britain’s homeless.
Adequate housing is part of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and includes the freedom of protection against forced eviction from one’s home.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) recently announced new measures to protect tenants’ rights.
It included a ban on section-21 no fault evictions, and an end to review clauses in contracts which are often used to increase rent.
Families will also have greater protection, and it will be illegal for landlords to have blanket bans on those with children or receiving benefits.
Amnesty urged the Government to build more affordable homes. It stated that making housing a human right in law would help ensure this happens.
Ms Vartak explained: “The human right to housing included obligations on governments to ensure that there is sufficient truly affordable housing stock to meet housing need.
“Governments can achieve this through various means including by building more genuinely affordable housing and ensuring that social security benefits covering housing are sufficient to rent decent homes in the private rented sector.”
However, the Government has defended its plans for housing and outlined how new investment will help tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in the UK.
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A DLUHC spokesperson said: “Everyone deserves access to safe and secure accommodation.
“There are safeguards in place to ensure vulnerable migrants who are destitute and have other needs, such as supporting children, can receive help and can also apply to have their no recourse to public funds conditions lifted.
“Over the next three years, we are giving councils £2 billion to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping which can be used to help anyone, including those with restricted eligibility, as long as the council is acting within the law in doing so.”
Numbers of new homes being built in the UK are below the Government’s target.
A House of Commons report found just 216,000 were built in 2020/21 towards the aim of 300,000 per year.
That’s even lower than the 243,000 new home built in the previous year.
Meanwhile, UK housing prices continue to increase, rising by nearly 10 percent over the year up to March 2022.
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