The leafy Borough of Broxbourne has one of the worst rates of
homelessness in the Country (ranked 22nd in a recently published list of
50 homeless hot spots around the UK)
There is no night shelter
in Broxbourne and, at the Council’s estimate, you can expect to find
three or four people sleeping rough within the Borough most nights. It’s
easier to become homeless than you might think. Lose your job or your
partner, face a period of illness or unemployment, fall behind with the
mortgage or the rent, and you and your family could be on the way to
losing your home.
Sleeping rough is only the tip of the iceberg.
There are many more homeless in temporary accommodation, more than 200
households in Broxbourne alone. Homelessness is particularly tragic for
children. If your childhood is blighted, you never get it back and the
effects can last a life time.
If you have a job and an income you
should at least have a home. Time was when local authorities and
housing associations built 200,000 affordable homes nationwide each year
but since 1980 construction of social housing has plummeted. House
prices in affluent areas like Broxbourne have soared to an unaffordable
8* average salary. “Generation Rent” must struggle to rent privately in
a market where rental costs are increasing faster than pay. Small
wonder that this poorly regulated sector has grown by 38% in Broxbourne
Unfortunately, the government seems intent upon
making a bad situation worse for the most vulnerable renters. The roll
out of Universal Credit will replace Housing Allowance paid directly to
the Landlord with an, inadequate, capped monthly benefit payment to the
claimant after an initial five-week delay in payment. The process seems
designed to create further arrears, debt and distress.
Housing has become a national crisis and solutions are urgently needed at both national and local level.
- The Government must commit to building 300,000 new homes nationwide by 2022. That’s affordable and energy efficient housing within well planned new towns, not speculative “premium” developments shoe horned on to land filched from the Green Belt.
- Local authorities need additional powers to require affordable homes within all new developments and to prevent developers from reneging on commitments.
- Renters in the mushrooming private sector need better protection, to end discrimination by landlords and insurers against tenants on benefits and to outlaw “no fault” evictions.
Safe, secure and affordable housing is a basic human right and we deserve better.
A piece by a Broxbourne Liberal Democrat campaigner, David Payne