Why are we doing this research?
Recent changes have created a cause for concern. Figures have shown that in the last financial year youth homelessness has risen across Knowsley, and the North West in general. This is a worrying trend and could be down to a number of factors. However, Citizen’s Advice will specifically look at how welfare reform and the recent benefits cap have potentially contributed to this rise. This research will be done in conjunction with partners and will allow us to provide better services to our clients, by signposting to specialised agencies when applicable and working to ensure young people who find themselves homeless know their rights.
What will the research look at?
This research will look at the impact of the benefits cap and welfare reform on families and young people. It will look at the potential and actual impact as the new system is rolled out. The research will also look at the current procedure both housing and social services use when assessing a young person who is homeless. Finally, it will look at how working with partners in the Knowsley and Liverpool area can ensure that the best service can be provided for clients.
What do we need?
In order to do complete this research we need to work with partners and clients. If any local charities or organisations that specialise in housing or homelessness want to get involved, please contact us. Additionally, if any clients want to get involved by sharing experiences please do not hesitate to contact us.
Our findings so far
The news is currently dominated by the latest updates on BREXIT, the economy and industrial strikes. However, one thing largely under the radar is the rise in homelessness in our cities. It doesn’t take much to see that homelessness is an issue in our society. A walk around Liverpool city centre will show what many see as being ‘typically’ homeless, with people facing nights on the streets. This sight is an awful one, and one many of us have become accustomed to, but it only scratches the surface. Many people across the country and in Merseyside are faced with the threat of being homeless due to a number of factors. Our research is currently looking at the causes of homelessness, particularly in young people, and how we and other agencies can provide a better service for our clients.
We are currently looking at the roll out of Universal Credit and the Benefits Cap. Other areas where Universal Credit was tested have seen a significant rise in the number of people falling behind with their rent. This can leave many people at risk of losing their home. As Universal Credit is being rolled out in Knowsley and the Merseyside area, we will be looking at whether the reforms are having an impact on our clients. In addition, The Guardian has looked at the potential impact of the benefits cap on families.1 This is a recent change that caps benefits in households at £20,000 a year. Again, we will be looking at the impact this has on families. If anyone in the Knowsley area is being affected by any of these issues, please do contact your local Citizens Advice Branch.
We are also looking to work with partner agencies in the area. This is helping us build relationships with more specialised charities and organisations that can deal with any homelessness queries or issues. We are doing this with the aim of improving the service to clients, as it will allow us to signpost to the right agencies.
We also need the help of our clients. Clients stories and experiences help us in our research, which can lead us to make changes or lobby for changes in other agencies. If you have any experiences of homelessness or potential homelessness, please contact us.
1 https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/01/extended-benefit-cap-hit-116000-families-housing-experts accessed 16th July 2017.
How to keep up to date?
If you are interested in keeping up with our research and campaigns, follow us on twitter @knowsleycab1