Figures reveal that the number of homeless people in Derby has tripled in the space of a year, with many blaming funding cuts and welfare reforms.
Figures show that there were 769 individuals or families made homeless in 201-14 which is three times more than figures from 2012-13. Experts say that this is partly due to the cutting of council budgets and welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax, reports the Derby Telegraph.
The council says that this homelessness issue is nationwide and that the cuts it makes are due to the government cutting its funding.
Pat Zadora, chairman of the Padley Centre, which helps the city’s homeless, said “a lot of people are poorer than they used to be”.
She said: “I’m not surprised that the figures have gone up. I’m not saying the changes themselves are wrong but they would seem to have affected a lot of people they weren’t meant to. There used to be a lot more places for people to go, which is why the churches decided to step in and provide the night shelters over the winter months.”
Andy Trenier, a curate and minor canon at Derby Cathedral, helped run those shelters.
He said: “The clear and obvious reason is because benefits are being changed. Local government funding is also being chopped in half. People are living fragile lives. If our car gets bust or there’s something damaged at home, we have savings to fall back on or we may be able to borrow money. These people only need one thing to go wrong and it tips the balance.”
A spokesman for businesses in the Cathedral Quarter said firms had noticed more homeless people in the area, “both during the day and night – particularly since the closure of the Assembly Rooms car park”.
Gillian Sewell, chief executive of YMCA Derbyshire, said: “Homeless people and their much-needed services have been hit hard by funding cuts and benefits changes. We work with partners across Derby and further afield to address the problem and give young people, in particular, a safe front door but society as a whole must wake up to the scandal of homelessness.”
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said Whitehall did not accept the latest homelessness figures from the council as they had not been through a “quality assurance process”.
They said: “The level of homelessness in Derby is a quarter of what it was a decade ago and this Government is committed to preventing and tackling homelessness and rough sleeping. That is why we have invested £470 million over four years to ensure that support is available to the most vulnerable people across the country. It is for local councils to determine how best to allocate funding in their area. The Government has delivered a fair settlement to every part of the country – north and south, rural and urban, metropolitan and shire.”
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