Councils warn of rise in temporary accommodation use since Homelessness Reduction Act

By agency reporter
March 25, 2019

More people are being placed in temporary and emergency accommodation as a result of the Homelessness Reduction Act as councils struggle to cope with rising numbers of people facing homelessness and with a lack of affordable housing for them, a survey by the Local Government Association reveals.

The findings come ahead of the anniversary of the Homelessness Reduction Act, which placed a renewed focus on homelessness prevention, introducing a range of new duties on councils when it came into force on 1 April 2018.

Since 2017, local authorities have been housing more than 200,000 households in temporary accommodation, including in bed and breakfasts and hostels and private rented accommodation, with over half of them being children. 

With the number of homelessness presentations continuing to rise across England since the introduction of the Act, the number of households in temporary accommodation is now up more than 70 per cent since 2010 and the burden on councils and their budgets will continue to increase.

To coincide with the anniversary of the Act, the survey of councils by the LGA reveals:

  • Eight in 10 councils have seen an increase in homelessness presentations since the introduction of the Act.   
  • Six in 10 councils said it had increased the number of people being housed in temporary and emergency accommodation. The same number of councils say the length of time people spend in temporary and emergency accommodation has increased.
  • Limited access to affordable housing and a lack of suitable accommodation for people already sleeping rough is a serious concern for 91 per cent of councils.  
  • Councils across the country say excessive levels of paperwork required by the Act are costing them too much in administration costs and are hampering their ability to meet the needs of people at risk of homelessness.  
  • Councils are determined to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

The LGA said it is crucial that councils can keep 100 per cent of the receipts of any homes they sell to replace them, reinvest in building more of the genuinely affordable homes they desperately need and adapt welfare reforms to prevent people from losing their home where possible.

LGA housing spokesman Cllr Martin Tett, said: “Behind every instance of homelessness lies an individual tragedy and councils are determined to prevent it from happening and support homeless people in their communities into accommodation as quickly and as effectively as possible.

“Many councils have updated their homelessness prevention strategies since the Act was introduced last year. But a lack of affordable housing has left many struggling to cope with [the]rising number of people coming to them for help and having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result.

“This is bad for families and communities, expensive for councils and not the aim of the Act.

“The wider factors that are increasing homelessness also need to be addressed if the Act is to be a success. Councils need to keep 100 per cent of Right to Buy sales receipts to replace homes sold and to adapt welfare reforms to protect families at risk of homelessness and prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.”

* Local Government Association https://www.local.gov.uk/

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