The Citizens Advice Bureau has warned that the UK is "on the edge of a serious housing crisis" after releasing data on the increase in cases it has dealt with relating to rent arrears and threatened homelessness.
The charity said that the impact of welfare reform is "crucial" and said that recent reforms that have been "rushed in without a proper safety net in place".
In the second quarter of this year, Citizens Advice Bureau gave advice on:
- 22,412 issues about social housing rent arrears - a 13 per cent increase on the same period last year
- 2,840 issues about possessions claims due to rent arrears in the social housing sector - a 38 per cent increase on the same period last year
- 2,736 issues about threatened homelessness in social housing - a 12 per cent increase on the same period last year
- 3,307 issues about Discretionary Housing Payments - a 110 per cent increase on the same period last year.
Of all the charity's clients advised about debt issues:
- 45 per cent are social tenants
- 31 per cent are private tenants
- 20 per cent are buying their home
- 5 per cent own their home outright.
Social housing tenants are facing an increased threat of homelessness, the Citizen's Advice Bureau has warned, after cases of rent arrears cases reported to the charity rose 13 per cent from July to September this year.
Citizens Advice warned that despite growing confidence in the UK's economic recovery, households are not yet feeling the benefit of the improved economic outlook.
It suggested that the impact of the Under-Occupancy Penalty, combined with changes to Council Tax support, has contributed heavily to rent arrears problems
Instances of Citizens Advice Bureaux advising clients about Discretionary Housing Payments, to help people pay their rent, have more than doubled in the six months since April this year when the charge for under-occupancy was introduced.
Lynda Floyd, who lives in a large council house in Granville Square in Islington in north London, said she does not agree with the proposals.
Labour MP Chris Bryant has criticised the latest report on social housing from think-tank Policy Exchange on Twitter.
Labour MP Karen Buck told BBC Radio 4 that social housing proposals outlined by influential think-tank Policy Exchange will force lower income families out of more affluent areas creating segregated communities of rich and poor.
The MP who represents Westminster North said:
Policy Exchange's Ending Expensive Social Tenancies report says that properties worth more than the average house price for an area account for one in five of the social housing stock.
The 816,000 homes have a total value of £159 billion, with £71.9 billion of that in London.
Around 3.5% of the buildings become vacant each year and, after debts are paid off, would raise £4.5 billion.
The report suggests that the money should be earmarked to build additional homes and recommended introducing spending floors to ensure standards are driven up in the quality of stock.