Concern over threat of homelessness in Wales

By staff writers
9 Jan 2013

Over a quarter of people in Wales fear the struggle to keep a roof over their heads in the shadow of austerity, housing charity Shelter Cymru says.

The NGO is also concerned about the number of people using payday loans to meet rent or mortgage payments, which is in danger of getting them into a cycle of debt..

In December 2012 it was revealed that the number of people in Wales claiming help from councils for homelessness had risen for the second year in a row.

John Puzey, the CEO of Shelter Cymru, told the BBC: "I think local authorities and their partner organisations have done very well over the last couple of years holding back the tide of homelessness, working very hard to find people alternatives.

But he added: "In the end, these alternatives will start running out. In fact, they are starting to run out, and with so many people facing these kind of difficulties, it's going to be a real challenge in the next couple of years."

Statistics released last week by Shelter in Britain suggest 1.5 million people across the UK are falling behind with their rent or mortgage payments. 26 per cent of people in Wales surveyed described themselves as "constantly struggling".

Around a million people in Britain turned to payday loans to help pay their rent or mortgage in 2012, Shelter's research also shows.

Mr Puzey continued: "Shelter Cymru has been tracking these trends in Wales over the past few years and these pretty much confirm the direction of travel that we've been seeing."

"More and more people struggling to pay their rent or mortgages, more and more being very anxious about their future in terms of keeping their homes, more and more people indeed cutting back on essentials such as food and heating."

Over 19,000 people in Wales said they had nowhere to live, a rise of about 27 per cent on the previous year, figures obtained by BBC Wales in December 2012 suggest.

The Welsh Assembly Government has announced extra funding to combat homelessness and is partnering with voluntary organisations. But there are fears that cuts and welfare changes being imposed by the UK parliament are making the situation worse.

There are around 73,000 households in Wales on waiting lists for council or social housing, according to the most recent figures.

Yet there are more than 23,000 privately owned homes lying empty in Wales – a huge waste of resources, says Shelter Cymru.

A survey commissioned by the charity a few years ago showed that 77 per cent of the Welsh public want to see the Welsh Assembly Government prioritising bringing empty homes back into use.

* Shelter Cymru: http://www.sheltercymru.org.uk/

[Ekk/3]

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