20 October 2010
St Mungo's has expressed grave concerns that the Government's announcement of Spending Review cuts could halt people's recovery and lead to more people rough sleeping on the streets.
Charles Fraser, Chief Executive of St Mungo's, said: "These are really tough cuts and will be a severe blow to some of the poorest in society. Although the Coalition Government has pledged to protect the most vulnerable, we are deeply concerned that these cuts could, firstly, penalise people recovering from homelessness and, secondly, lead to a potential increase in the numbers left hanging on by their fingertips, with a knock on effect for rough sleeping numbers."
Of particular concern is the new announcement today that all housing benefits recipients under 35 will only receive the 'single room' rate, which effectively means living in shared housing.
St Mungo's estimates this would affect around a quarter of its current 1,500 residents. Of these, some may not find it easy to share as they move on into independent living because of poor mental or physical health.
They may then face a further 10% cut to their housing benefit if they are on Job Seekers Allowance but not able to find a job within a year.
St Mungo's is also worried that Employment and Support Allowance will be time-limited. This benefit helps those who have been through a medical assessment and have been found not fit to work.
Charles Fraser said: "Whilst we welcome the news that the homelessness grant will be protected at £100m, and that there is to be an extra £37.5 million over four years for capital projects, we still have great fears that the axe will fall on those most in need of a safety net."
The cuts will also impact on skills and education opportunities and specialist health services needed by those currently rough sleeping, homeless and vulnerable.
St Mungo's urged local authorities to work with voluntary organisations to ensure that the cuts don't undermine the Coalition's pledge to protect the most vulnerable.
Charles Fraser said: "There are opportunities here too. We urge those making judgements about budgets to talk fully and frankly with voluntary organisations like St Mungo's so we can really focus on targeted support for those most vulnerable in society."
St Mungo's manages more than 100 projects in London and the south of England. Its innovative health and work programmes include: