Latest Public Sector News

19.01.17

Glasgow blames UC for negative impact on homelessness services

Welfare reform has been slammed by a Glasgow MP following reports that the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) is exacerbating homelessness and affecting council services.

Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, questioned DCLG ministers in the House of Commons earlier this week after a Glasgow City Council Integration Joint Board report revealed that homeless people in the city had been accidentally placed on the new scheme by the DWP, causing them to be in debt to the council.

The report concluded that as a result of the roll-out and budget cuts the city’s homelessness services “can no longer absorb this level of impact and continue to operate a sustainable service that meets its statutory duties”.

The grilling follows previous calls by councils for the government to reconsider the UC roll-out after Great Yarmouth Council wrote to the DWP asking it to suspend the housing benefit element, saying that delayed UC payments were leading to a rise in homelessness in the town.

“Glasgow City Council will consider a report that shows the devastating impact the universal credit roll-out is having on homelessness services in the city,” Thewliss told the local government minister Marcus Jones. “So far, it has resulted in 73 homeless individuals racking up debts to the council of £144,000, an average of £1,971 per person.

“That is completely unsustainable both for the individuals and the council. What impact is the UC roll-out having on local authorities across the UK?”

Jones responded that the government has increased discretionary housing payments to £870m by 2020 in order to mitigate the “short-term challenges” faced by people as a result of the welfare changes.

He added that 30% of savings from the local housing allowance rate will be “repurposed” to help people living in the highest value areas struggling to find affordable housing.

Thewliss called the government’s response “completely inadequate”, saying that welfare reform has led to cuts of over £6m to Glasgow’s temporary accommodation budget.

“Does the minister not accept that really to help rough sleepers and people who are homeless there must be co-ordinated work across all government departments?” she demanded. “We cannot have one department undermining the services of another.”

Jones assured Thewliss that the government is working “extremely hard on this issue” and said that the temporary accommodation management fee is being devolved to local authorities and to the Scottish government for them to oversee.  

A Glasgow City Council spokesman confirmed that the introduction of UC has already had a significant impact on the city’s budget for homelessness services, leading the council to anticipate that it will become “increasingly challenging” to deliver them when UC rolls out fully in Glasgow in 2018.

“We will continue to seek ways to mitigate the impact of these changes so we continue to operate an effective service for those affected by homelessness,” the spokesman said.

Earlier this week the government announced an extra £48m of funding to help councils expand their homelessness provision in preparation for the effects of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, although Lord Porter of the LGA warned that the true amount of funding councils would need was “difficult to predict”.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become a PSE columnist? If so, click here 

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Parliament cannot solve homelessness through legislation alone

Parliament cannot solve homelessness through legislation alone

Cllr Michelle Lowe, deputy leader and cabinet member for housing and health at Sevenoaks District Council, argues that if the government is really serious about combating homelessness they will work more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Time to embrace change

01/03/2017Time to embrace change

The way we work is changing. As a profession, we must be ready to embrace i... more >
Digital Marketplace: reaching far and wide in the public sector

01/03/2017Digital Marketplace: reaching far and wide in the public sector

Over the next few months, the Government Digital Service (GDS) wants to get... more >

interviews

Leading transformational change through procurement

01/03/2017Leading transformational change through procurement

Liz Welton, chair of the Society of Procurement Officers in Local Governmen... more >

the raven's daily blog

Why opening up procurement matters to the UK public sector

22/03/2017Why opening up procurement matters to the UK public sector

Rob Levene, managing director of Bloom, explains why opening up procurement is important to the UK public sector.  Procuring products and services by the UK public s... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

21/02/2017Untapped potential

As PSE went to press, the government had just released its Industrial Strategy green paper, which has an ambitious aim to “improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country”.  Overall, the strategy was welcomed across the public sector. However, as you’ll read throughout this edition of the magazine, in order to make the aspirations a reality, there needs to be a greater level of freedom for all... read more >