Homelessness fears voiced over cuts to rent support

Date published: 09 June 2021

Shadow Oldham council cabinet member for Housing Sam Al-Hamdani fears a proposed £40 million cut in support for renters – to below pre-pandemic levels – is likely to drive up homelessness rates across the borough.

The cuts to discretionary housing payments provide support to people claiming housing benefit or universal credit who face rent shortfalls, or for assistance with deposits.

They are to be cut by 22%, in a change which was put through with little attention being drawn to it in the spring budget.

Local Liberal-Democrat Councillor Mr Al-Hamdani said: “So many people have spent the last year trying to manage in extraordinary circumstances.

"People’s jobs are at risk, and the last thing we need is for people to have emergency support withdrawn.

“The Government’s own figures show that three times as many private renters are behind on their payments as before coronavirus, and that as many again thought that they would fall behind in the next six months.”

The furlough scheme is due to end in September, and a ban on evictions during Covid was recently ended.

Mr Al-Hamdani added: “Oldham is again likely to bear the brunt of this change.

"We have more people in tenuous accommodation, in precarious jobs, and who have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impact.

“Once again, it is a decision taken by the Conservative Government in Westminster with little or no thought on the impact it will have on towns like ours.”

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