Southwark Council is one of the UK’s largest social landlords. That means if there are problems with Universal Credit, it’s our friends, our family, and our neighbours who are being affected, in some cases left in spiralling debt and unable to feed and clothe themselves.
But we also all stand to lose out from a welfare system that pushes costs increasingly onto our local authority.
Rent arrears affect the council’s budget, and in uncertain economic times we have no way of knowing how bad it could get.
The problems with universal credit are well documented.
Every week the News hears from people in desperate situations who can’t afford housing, can’t afford food, and feel lost and completely let down.
Fortunately most people referred to the fantastic people at Pecan food bank will only be there as a temporary measure before things can and do get better.
Not everyone though is able to accept help. And not everyone will manage better with a bit more money at the end of the month.
Last month we had the opportunity to visit a truly ground-breaking project helping long-term rough sleepers stop the cycle, which often sees them moving in and out of housing, rehab or even prison.
They are some of the hardest people to build a relationship with because so many of them struggle to accept help, often due to past trauma. The results for this fantastic initiative speak for themselves.
As we have reported, early traumatic experiences are increasingly seen as the root cause of many social ills – from knife crime to drug abuse, prison stays and rough sleeping
But mental health funding enjoys nowhere near a level playing field with funding for physical problems, and often intervention only comes when a crisis point has already been reached.
That’s why the council’s bold promise to treat every single child with a mental health condition is hugely important.
If we get childhood mental health support right we won’t just see the difference now – we will continue to feel it for many years to come.