Homelessness crisis costs councils over £1bn in just one year

By agency reporter
November 15, 2019

The government has released new figures on the amount being spent by local councils on temporary accommodation for homeless households in England in 2018/19. They show:

  • Councils spent £1.1 billion on temporary accommodation for homeless households between April 2018 and March 2019. This has increased by nine per cent in the last year and 78 per cent in the last five years.
  • More than 30 per cent of the total (£344 million) was spent on emergency B&Bs – some of the worst places for families with children to live.
  • Spending on B&Bs has increased by 111 per cent in the last five years. As Shelter sees through its own services, this is largely due to a shortage of affordable accommodation, meaning councils may have no choice but to use emergency B&Bs.
  • Funding for temporary accommodation mainly comes from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). However, these figures illustrate the gap between DWP funding, and the amount councils need to house homeless households. The amount councils spent from their own budget on temporary accommodation increased by 123 per cent in the last five years, while central government grants for social housebuilding have been cut.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “These figures are a shocking, yet entirely preventable consequence of our housing emergency. If consecutive governments had built the genuinely affordable social homes that are needed, fewer people would be homeless, and we would not be wasting vast sums on unsuitable temporary accommodation.  

“What’s even more shameful is that so much of this public money is lining the pockets of unscrupulous private landlords, who can charge desperate councils extortionate rates for grim B&Bs, because there’s nowhere else for families to go. No family should have to live in a tiny room where there’s nowhere to even cook a meal, or any safe space for their children to play.

“This is a crisis we cannot allow politicians to ignore during this election. Social housing must be at the heart of every manifesto, and all parties must to commit to at least 90,000 new social homes a year over the next parliament. If they don’t, all of us will pay an even higher price.”

* Read Local authority revenue expenditure and financing England: 2018 to 2019 here

* Shelter https://england.shelter.org.uk/


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