In late 2013, the independent Women’s Budget Group (WBG) warned that benefits and public service cuts imposed by the government had disproportionately affected women, particularly single parents and pensioners rather than men. These cuts have not only meant that women now face lower incomes, but they have also meant that there is a distinct lack in the amount of housing projects which specifically cater to both women with or without children in the UK.
Tracy Guy, a manager of the North East branch of the charity Shelter, agrees that the situation regarding women’s supported housing needs to be readdressed.
"General women’s accommodation is dire," said Guy, "There really are very few supported housing projects, not just in Newcastle but in the whole of the UK. It’s a problem which is talked about a lot but more needs to be done to rectify the situation."
While there are some situations where the local authority are obliged to provide protection and housing to women and families in need under the Homeless Legislation, it is harder to accommodate for women who are not in danger of being made homeless.
"For people who are not homeless or do not have that risk associated with them it is a harder job to place them because there isn’t that many women and children’s projects."
While some housing projects in the UK and the Newcastle area are now mixed, with both men and women being catered to, Guy agreed that this is not always suitable for many women.
"Mixed projects just don’t work for some women. Some have got so many other pressures and potentially may have been a victim of crime or domestic abuse so being placed in a mixed hostel isn’t always appropriate."
While there are fewer women than men who are in need of support, the services available are limited for both sexes and a lack of funding has forced shelters which provided much needed support and accommodation for those facing housing crisis to close in the last few years.
This is a situation which will not be solved easily or quickly but one which needs to be addressed by both the government and the local authorities and community.