Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dire Warning over Threat to Estates; Homes of Poorest People to Bear Brunt of Cuts

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Dire Warning over Threat to Estates; Homes of Poorest People to Bear Brunt of Cuts

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN PEARSON

SHOPS closing down, tower blocks demolished and neighbour turning on neighbour. That is the damning warning as housing bosses tell ministers they must reverse plans to cut the cash used to keep estates going.

If the call goes unheeded, thousands of tenants could see bills pushed up for gardening, security and cleaning.

Thousands of low income and unemployed families across Tyneside are helped through the payment of a little extra in benefits to cover the cost of maintaining rented properties.

But housing groups have been told the money could go, leaving no cash to pay for tower block lift repairs, removing garden waste or providing furnished properties for those most in need.

Your Homes Newcastle has sent a worst case scenario breakdown of how the cuts could hit Tyneside, underpinned by a clear warning that without a little help some homes will be unrentable.

In high rise blocks, for example, housing benefit is used to cover costs such as CCTV, caretakers and cleaning. Government changes could see families paid only for their rent, with no cash to cover these extras.

Youth Homes Newcastle says this could potentially see an increased number of empty homes, with a big risk of crime rising as estates are left semi-occupied.

If the worst comes to pass, housing bosses say, they may even have to demolish some housing blocks. Even seemingly simple issues such as gardening could be hit if the money is cut, they add.

Your Homes Newcastle chair Steve Murphy warns the Social Security Advisory Committee that disabled tenants in particular may end up being "targeted by their neighbours as a result of their difficulties in maintaining their garden." Fly tipping is also expected to increase as a result. Running through the letter is a warning that by removing the cash that helps keep estates livable, the Government runs the risk of increasing anti-social behaviour and undoing more than a decade of hard work.

Taking up the cause is former Newcastle Council leader Lord Beecham who said important services, may have to be severely curtailed or their cost met through charges which many people will be unable to afford. …

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