A MAN has told how the cost of living crisis has hit him so hard he is set to lose his home – and is already living on the streets to get used to it.
James, who asked to change his name to protect his identity, had previously lived on the streets for 25 years, but last year found a place to live in Greater Manchester.
The 54-year-old was helped by Manchester City Council and a housing agency to get the property.
But he says the pile-up of bills and debts since living there has left him in a desperate situation once again.
James told Manchester Evening News: "I should be on £300 odd a fortnight with my illnesses but I'm only on £200 and I've got my loans coming out which is leaving me in arrears.
"I've got a new flat and I'm in arrears on that, my council tax comes through and my electricity and gas have gone through the roof."
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James said even though he has a place to stay, he’s now back on the streets to prepare himself for when he's inevitably evicted.
He explained: “I’ve still got my gaff, but what’s the point of living there when I can’t afford gas, electric and can’t get no help.
“I feel like I’m going to lose it soon, very soon. Since all them bills come in I’ve been on the streets five, six weeks, just to get used to it again, because I know it’s gonna happen again.”
A forecast by housing charity Crisis and Heriot-Watt University has predicted that over 66,000 more people will be homeless by 2024 due to the rise in cost of living and benefit freezes.
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Their report also predicts 8,000 more people will be sleeping rough and 9,000 people will be forced into unsuitable temporary accommodation.
It comes as households could see their energy bills rocket to an eye-watering £2,800 a year when the energy price cap goes up in October.
Rising wholesale gas prices impacted by the pandemic, lack of supply and ongoing conflict overseas, have been blamed for the cap increasing.
A Greater Manchester Combined Authority spokesperson (GMCA), said: “A Bed Every Night (ABEN) was launched in 2017 with a clear ambition: to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester.
"The service offers shelter and personal support on an emergency basis to people who would otherwise be spending the night out on the street, and those accessing ABEN are given help with basic needs, access to healthcare, and move-on options.
"Twenty-one organisations across Greater Manchester provide accommodation including dedicated provision for women, LGBTQ+ people, those with pets, and people with No Recourse to Public Funds."
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They added: "Safety, assurance, and scrutiny practises are in place across all ABEN locations, with a view to ensuring that everyone who uses the service can get the support and the security they need.
“More than 500 spaces of emergency accommodation are always available throughout the whole year to anyone who needs them, with extra provision put in place at times of greater pressure or risk, including the winter months."
How to get help
As the cost of living rockets, the Government is dishing out free cash and support as part of the Household Support Fund (HSF) initiative.
Each council has been given a portion of funding to support local residents.
To find out what supports on offer, speak directly to your local council or visit its website for more details.
For example, Derby Council is giving out £120 in cash to residents struggling over term break.
Torbay Council is lending a maximum amount of £50 towards food or energy bills.
Most councils will need to see an immediate need for support – so you might need to prove you've had benefits by showing your latest bank statement.
If you find you're not eligible but still need support, you can check in with your energy suppliers to see what grants are on offer.
Don't forget to look at the government's council checker tool to help you find relevant support. Just type in your post code.
Here are some other contacts to call for help:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
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