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Housing Secretary must protect the most vulnerable as energy prices double and inflation runs out of control

The chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has appealed to new Housing Secretary Simon Clarke to be an advocate for extra financial assistance for those left most exposed by the hike in energy prices despite the measures announced by Prime Minister Liz Truss earlier today.

Cedric Boston said: “I welcome the support the Government has brought forward but the fact remains that average energy bills will have doubled in just 12 months.

“This will have a devastating impact on individuals and families on the lowest incomes including a considerable proportion of housing association tenants.

“Such a major hit on limited household budgets comes in the midst of a spiralling cost of living crisis with inflation seemingly out of control.

“I appeal to Simon Clarke, the new Housing Secretary, to be an advocate for the needs of the most vulnerable at the heart of the Government’s decision-making as we approach an incredibly difficult winter.

“This should include allowing those on housing benefit, who Ministers say they want to help, to retain the additional support received from the proposed social housing rent cap rather than the Treasury clawing it back to central funds.

“The benefit cap must also rise to enable households in receipt to meet inflationary rent increases.

“Further, there can be no excuse for annual benefits for individuals and families not to go up in line with inflation.

“Unity will always do everything we can to safeguard the wellbeing of local communities, but the Government must commit to supporting us and our tenants in the short, medium and long-term.”

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Cedric Boston, Unity chief executive

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Unity Housing Association was formed in 1987 with the objective of building a strong, BME-led, community housing association to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds. The initial focus was on Chapeltown, but this has widened to other areas of the city including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck, Chapel Allerton and Pudsey. Alongside two schemes in Huddersfield, a new affordable housing development has recently been completed in Cleckheaton. With a turnover of £6.8 million and an annual investment in new and existing homes of around £6.5 million, Unity now manages over 1,350 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds. In 2000 the association established its not-for-profit subsidiary company, Unity Enterprise, to support local entrepreneurial activity. It now provides 142 affordable business units for more than 80 diverse businesses across three centres in Leeds. Unity Employment Services (UES) was set-up in 2011 to support Unity tenants and their surrounding communities in accessing employment and training opportunities. It has since supported more than 1,700 individuals into work and training.

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