Recently I was pleased to visit Bramwell House, the homeless shelter managed by the Salvation Army here in Blackburn, it helps and supports homeless people by providing accommodation and floating support to those who need it most.
Bramwell House gives people who would otherwise be sleeping rough a safe and warm place to stay. The services Bramwell House offers gives some of the most vulnerable in Blackburn a life chance and the opportunity to change their outlooks for the better.
However, the benefits are so much wider than that, Bramwell House helps to reduce rough sleeping, involvement in crime, reliance on the health system and demand for other social services in our community.
Regrettably, not all is well, the short-termism of Tory housing policies is leaving essential support for homeless people in peril.
As the DWP continues to frantically try and cut the Housing Benefit bill they have proposed a Local Housing Allowance (LHA) cap which, if applied to supported housing schemes, like Bramwell House, will lead to many of them to close which would be to the detriment of our communities.
What the Salvation Army adds to communities – and has been adding to communities for 130 years - is invaluable, helping to keep vulnerable people off the streets, giving people a future and being able to support homeless people when they need medical help.
It’s a great shame that the Tory government doesn’t seem to appreciate the work that schemes like Bramwell House do.
The stark reality is that if the Tories don’t heed the warnings from the Salvation Army and others about an exception from the LHA cap, many will disappear as the funding shortfall caused by this policy may well be chronic, leaving many vulnerable people with nowhere to live.
You may wonder why shelters like Bramwell House should be exempt from a cap and in my opinion it’s because of the extra costs essential to provide the service, many shelters require 24/7 staff, extra security services and more intensive cleaning and maintenance. In my view it’s absolutely essential that the government does all it can to ensure a future for Bramwell House and other similar projects across the country.
Homeless people’s futures should not be at the whim of rash decisions from government, they deserve much better than that.