Mark Whitehead 15 December 2017

‘Rocketing’ rents forcing families to turn to councils

Homelessness is hitting professionals who would never have faced problems finding a place to live in the past, according to the local government watchdog.

The local government and social care ombudsman (LGO) Michael King says rocketing private rents mean families are increasingly being forced to turn to councils for help.

His report, Still No Place Like Home?, says one in three complaints about homelessness services delivered by English authorities came from outside of London.

Many were from people who would never have expected to be made homeless but who have been forced to call on their local council’s help by the increasing unaffordability of private tenancies.

Mr King commented: 'Our cases show many pre-conceived ideas about the people affected by homelessness simply no longer ring true.

'The increasing cost of private rents has meant we have seen a shift towards more people in professions such as nursing, and their families, becoming affected.

'Many of these families are being placed in poor quality accommodation, for periods significantly longer than the six-week legal limit.

'And we’re seeing signs the problems are growing more acute, particularly with an increase in the length of time families are having to stay in temporary accommodation.'

Responding to the report, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) housing spokesman, said: 'This research demonstrates that housing is becoming more and more unaffordable, and that urgent measures are needed to tackle our national shortage of affordable homes.

'Councils are facing immense pressures when it comes to temporary accommodation, having to house the equivalent of an extra secondary school’s worth of homeless children every month, and the cost of providing temporary accommodation has trebled in the last three years.'

'At the root of all of this is our desperate need to supply more affordable homes in the long term, and to help people most at risk of homelessness immediately,' Cllr Tett continued.

'That means the Government lifting the housing borrowing cap across the country, and allowing all councils to borrow to build, and adapting welfare reforms to make sure that housing remains affordable for low-income families, because the need is urgent, and new homes won’t appear overnight.'

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