The DWP’s most controversial reform has just been linked to the homelessness crisis

The DWP has been linked to the homelessness crisis
Support us and go ad-free

A flagship Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) welfare reform is contributing to the homelessness crisis in England, according to research. But the accusation that Universal Credit is causing homelessness is sadly nothing new.

Overwhelming evidence?

The national homeless organisations’ membership body, Homeless Link, has released a report [pdf] into youth homelessness among 16-to-24-year-olds. Called Young and Homeless 2018, it gathered information [pdf, p6] from 109 homelessness service providers and 79 local authorities. The results showed a direct link between Universal Credit and youth homelessness.

According to the report [pdf, p24], 92% of the organisations surveyed said DWP delays in paying Universal Credit were “having an impact on young people’s ability to access and sustain accommodation”. But it wasn’t just delays in payments that were making youth homelessness worse:

How Universal Credit affects young homeless people

Homeless Link’s report shows deeper welfare-related problems for young homeless people than just Universal Credit. For example, 90% of the organisations said [pdf, p32] benefit sanctions also had a “detrimental” impact on young people’s “housing options”. It also found [pdf, p32] other welfare reforms were having an impact:

Impact of welfare reforms on young homeless people

“Increased hardship”

This is not the first time organisations have linked Universal Credit to homelessness. In September 2017, Homeless Link and three other organisations warned the government about Universal Credit’s impact on overall homelessness, regardless of age. A statement said [pdf, p1]:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

We are concerned that Universal Credit in its current form is not working for people who have experienced, or are at risk of, homelessness. If problems with the new system are not addressed they will lead to significantly increased hardship for this group.

People who are homeless face specific problems caused by the current design of Universal Credit… others are being left at risk of becoming homeless… It is very unlikely that the people we represent will have the financial resources required to bridge the gap between applying for Universal Credit and receiving their first payment

A DWP spokesperson told The Canary:

Everyone deserves a safe place to live and we have already implemented a range of measures to tackle homelessness that have been welcomed by charities. We have introduced the Homelessness Reduction Act, made housing benefit available for 18-21 year olds on Universal Credit and brought in extra rent support for people moving from housing benefit to Universal Credit.

The government is providing over £1.2bn up to 2020 to reduce all forms of homelessness and we are investing in a Fair Chance Programme to support 18 to 25-year-olds with specific needs to help them find suitable accommodation and support.

The DWP: out of control?

But as The Canary has documented, the problems with Universal Credit extend well past homelessness. After highlighting overarching concerns about the impact of the policy on sick and disabled people, campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) told The Canary:

Universal Credit is a disastrous policy that represents a crime against claimants and must be stopped before it pushes more people into poverty and destitution.

Now, with more evidence of the calamitous effects of Universal Credit, the government must seriously rethink it. And if it doesn’t, a demonstration DPAC are organising at parliament on 18 April may make it change its mind.

Get Involved!

– Support DPAC and Black Triangle, campaigning for disabled people’s rights. Also, support Streets Kitchen, showing solidarity to homeless people and rough sleepers.

– Find out more about DPAC’s 18 April day of action.

Featured image via UK government – Wikimedia and Garry Knight – Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed