William Eichler 12 April 2018

70% of councils struggle to house the homeless, figures reveal

70% of councils struggle to house the homeless, figures reveal image

Over two thirds of local authorities surveyed said they had difficulties finding social housing for homeless people last year, new report reveals.

An annual homelessness study, funded by Crisis and Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), found the majority of councils in England are struggling to find any stable housing for homeless people in their area.

There are 78,000 homeless households in England in temporary accommodation, the report revealed. By 2020, it is likely more than 100,000 such households will be trapped in temporary accommodation.

The study also found 70% of local authorities surveyed for the report had difficulties finding social housing for homeless people last year, while 89% reported difficulties in finding private rented accommodation.

An estimated 40% of councils said the number of people seeking help from their homelessness services had risen over the last year.

This figure was higher in other areas, however, with 76% of councils in the Midlands, 70% in the south and 62% in the north, reporting the same trend.

Responding to the report, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Housing spokesman, said: ‘Behind every instance of homelessness lies an individual tragedy and local authorities are determined to prevent it from happening and support homeless people in their communities into accommodation as quickly and as effectively as possible.

‘Local authorities are currently housing more than 77,000 homeless families with in excess of 120,000 homeless children in temporary accommodation.

‘Whilst they are doing all they can to help families facing homelessness it’s essential that the new Homelessness Reduction Act duties on councils are fully funded.

‘It’s vital we move towards tackling our collective ambition to end homelessness outright. We need the full range of public bodies to cooperate with councils in addressing homelessness.

‘It is also essential that all councils are able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.’

Adam Lent, the director of the New Local Government Network (NLGN), ‘As this timely research shows, cutting the financial support available to tenants while failing to reform the housing market is proving to be a major policy disaster forcing increasing numbers into homelessness.

‘Creating a new statutory duty for councils to house the homeless is no magic wand. The Government must urgently give councils the powers and funding to reverse the current surge in homelessness and then review the welfare changes that have led to this moral failure.’

The Brownfield Land Release Fund image

The Brownfield Land Release Fund

To what extent does this early initiative of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities deliver on the ‘levelling up’ agenda? Lawrence Turner reports.
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