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East Lancashire shelters turning homeless away
NIGHT shelter workers fear their services may be ‘overwhelmed’ due to a deluge of queries following the welfare system overhaul.
One shelter revealed its staff had already started turning people away due to a lack of available beds.
Staff at the Moorings in Blackburn said they were unable to find beds for up to four women and five men a week as demand outstripped limited resources.
One worker, who did not want to be named, said that for the first time, staff had taken calls from people with homes but who believed they would soon be made homeless, asking about bed availability.
They said they received several queries every week from people who said they can not afford to pay rent.
The worker said: “I think the problem is only going to get worse as debts increase and the universal credit system is rolled out.
“I’ve never known it as bad as this and we are just snowed under.
“People have been sent to us from Chorley and even Liverpool because services over there can’t cope but we are restricted in what extra help we can give.
“I think that what really needs to be done is for new, appropriately-sized houses to be built and for landlords to be encouraged to accept those on benefits.”
In Burnley Emmaus project manager Lee Gosling said his team had noticed an increase in people concerned about rising rent bills.
He said: “Whilst we don’t tend to come into contact with people until they have been made homeless, we are aware that more people are becoming anxious about their bills.
“It may take another couple of months until we are directly hit with an increased demand but we are worried because we are at full capacity so if we see a big surge, we could be overwhelmed.
“We are limited by funding and physical space to temporarily house people.”
Paul Bamber, manager of Union House, a homeless accommodation base in Blackburn, said: “We run at an average of 99.5per cent occupancy and normally fill beds within hours so it will fall on the councils to house people, even temporarily, to avoid a big homelessness problem.”
Coun Yusuf Jan-Virmani, executive member for neighbourhoods, housing and customer services said: “We continually monitor the impact on households of the under occupancy rules related to the ‘bedroom tax’ to try to meet the demand for smaller accommodation, and also ensure the provision of emergency and temporary accommodation is sufficient to meet the demand.
“We also work with householders and their landlords to either assist with moving into a smaller home or looking at ways in which they can remain in their current one.”
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