Sharing tenancies on the agenda as welfare cuts bite in Falkirk

Susan James, Kyra Bailey and daughter Zoe Mason (4), Nicola Calladine and Becky Evans
Susan James, Kyra Bailey and daughter Zoe Mason (4), Nicola Calladine and Becky Evans
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A housing charity expects to see a rise in the number of homeless people forced to share a house with strangers following benefit reform cuts.

Cyrenians say single people under the age of 35 who are unemployed and have no children will have to consider sharing if they want a roof over their heads.

This follows the UK Government’s decision to slash housing benefit and the charity, which has a base in Falkirk’s Wellside Place, has raised its concerns.

“Around 50 per cent of the people on our records fall into that category,” said Cyrenians service manager Becky Evans.

“People who are unemployed, with no kids and under 35 will only receive the shared allowance rate of housing benefit and there’s no way that is enough.

“It’s something we are looking at in depth and people will have to consider sharing homes with other people as public service funds have been greatly reduced. We will have to have a close look at individual cases from now on.”

Cyrenians is a charity people on the margins of society can go to if they have problems with homelessness, poverty, unemployment, recovery from addiction or relapses into crime.

Kyra Bailey from Bantaskine, a 28-year-old mother-of-two, was referred to them by Falkirk Council after finding herself homeless after the break-up of a relationship.

She said: “It was earlier this year when I was living in Army accommodation with my partner and our relationship broke down.

“I was basically given three months to move out, although I had to stay for longer because I couldn’t find anywhere suitable for me and my children to move to. The housing just isn’t there.

“Even though I was a priority I wouldn’t have got anywhere from the council for about 18 months. They did offer me a couple of places, but they were so bad for one reason or another that I just couldn’t take my kids to live in them.”

She added: “If it wasn’t for Cyrenians I would still be waiting. The accommodation I have now is brilliant for us and life is generally better too because they help with all sorts of things, and I have my family support network around me now.”

Since 2008, Cyrenians in Falkirk have had more than 4000 people referred to them and housed 85 people in the district last year. The charity also helps people gain qualifications and provides employment training.

For more information visit www.cyrenians.org.uk or call (01324) 633413.