Letter in The Times 25th April 2012

Councils’ problems in finding accommodation for their homeless are as nothing compared with the difficulties of the tenants

Sir, That Newham Council is trying to export homeless tenants to a housing association in Stoke-on-Trent because of the coalition’s benefit caps and cuts is nothing compared with the problems faced by the tenants themselves (report, thetimes.co.uk).

The cases we are helping in Westminster include a family whose 10-year-old son has a terminal brain tumour, a 10-month-old boy who is receiving 24-hour support from social services because neither parent is able to care for him, and a mother, diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, who has two young children, both with learning difficulties. Only one of these cases received the much heralded discretionary housing payments, which run out leaving powerless and vulnerable tenants in unmanageable debt.

Other families are deliberately overcrowding rooms to fit the rent to the cap. The stress involved increases the demands on the health and education services, the costs of which are never taken into account by the Treasury.

The Rev Paul Nicolson
Chair, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust