19 December 2019 You are here:

Queen’s speech: too little too late on homelessness and adult social care

Lieut-Colonel Dean Pallant, Salvation Army Secretary for Communications, said: 

“Sadly, the priorities outlined in the Queen’s Speech make clear that the Government will not be able to deliver on key manifesto pledges on homelessness and adult social care. 

This inaction will have devastating consequences for the most vulnerable in our society." 

Affordable rents

“While we welcome proposals to improve protections for tenants in the private rented sector by ending ‘no fault’ evictions,  in many areas, the local housing allowance does not cover the cost of rents.

Our corps (churches) are helping people to make up that difference with food parcels, gas tops ups and debt advice to help people just keep their heads above water. Many are living hand to mouth from our food banks. 

So while we welcome the bill to abolish ‘no fault’ evictions, The Salvation Army is calling for: 

  • 90,000 more low cost homes for social rent to be built every year.
  • An increase in the value of the local housing allowance (the rate of housing benefit used in the private rented sector) so that three in every 10 rented homes are affordable to people on benefits and low incomes.

Ending rough sleeping 

“We very much welcomed the Conservative manifesto pledge to ‘end the blight of rough sleeping by the end of the next Parliament’ but the Government are setting off on the wrong course to achieve that.

In the past decade, rough sleeping has increased by 165%* and homelessness kills with over 726 people dying last year **. However, rough sleeping is not eliminated by providing shelter, because people need extra support to help them tackle the reasons why they ended up on the streets in the first place. 

The causes of homelessness can include poor mental health, childhood trauma, poverty, chronic illness or addiction. Supported housing provides shelter but also provides access to health and addiction help and other essential supportive services. 

Our Lifehouses (hostels), which provide supported housing prove this system works. Of our Lifehouse residents 69% will achieve one of the following - go on to get a job, private renting and/or training. The vast majority will find stable accommodation and will not return to living on the streets.

The Salvation Army is calling for:

  • A new, targeted programme of investment for local authorities to design and deliver local solutions to homelessness and rough sleeping, including support with addictions to prevent drug-related deaths.
  • More investment in supported housing to help end the revolving door of homelessness and get people forced to sleep rough off the streets. 

Adult social care

“More investment in adult social care is praise-worthy, but it is clear an additional £1bn per year is not enough to fix a system which is in crisis.

Currently, a significant proportion of provision is funded by local authorities through local taxes but a Salvation Army report has shown deep funding inequality across the country with many local authorities unable to raise the money needed, particularly in rural areas across England. This then means someone else has to plug the funding gap whether that is the person in need of care, their relatives, or care homes. The Salvation Army has to top-up the running costs of its care homes and in some areas, what the local authority provides does not even cover the necessary staffing costs to offer residents the care that they need. 

As such, the promised cross-party consultation on how to tackle the adult social care crisis is needed urgently and action must be taken to help eradicate the inequalities of current funding. 

Universal Credit

“We are disappointed that the Government has not addressed the child poverty and destitution and desolation that Universal Credit continues to cause. The Government’s benefits cap, two-child policy, and the current sanctions regime are pushing vulnerable people we work with into reliance on emergency food provision.

We have said time and again that the five week wait for people’s first payment is too long. It causes great financial strain for the people we support. The introduction of a Universal Credit advanced loan for the five week period has also forced people into sustained poverty and additional hardship, even once they are receiving payments, as they struggle to pay the loan back.

Many people we help find it difficult to access benefits due to the ‘digital by default’ approach. More needs to be done to make the system accessible to all.”

 

Notes to Editors

*Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2018, England (Revised). https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rough-sleeping-in-england-autum...

** Deaths of homeless people in England and Wale 2018, ONS,  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarri...

More detailed figures for the previous five years: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarri...