THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ASSOCIATION is concerned about families on the ‘cliff-edge’ of becoming homeless in England, and says councils want to work with the UK Government on a plan to support and protect households to stay in their homes in as many cases as possible.
This includes ensuring councils have access to resources to support people to keep their tenancies, improving support through the welfare system in the short-term, and powers to acquire and build more affordable homes in the long-term.
The LGA, which represents councils in England, is calling for a package of measures including:
- Bringing forward the Government’s pledge to end ‘no fault evictions’, which will prevent more households from becoming homeless once the stay on bailiff proceedings is lifted
- Improved protection through the welfare system, including maintaining the £20 per week increase in Universal Credit, due to end in September 2021 and maintaining Local Housing Allowance rates at the lowest third of market rents
- An immediate review of the impact of the overall benefits cap in the context of the pandemic
- Ensuring that councils have enough resources to support households at risk of homelessness – this includes restoration of local welfare funding to at least £250 million a year and a review of the Discretionary Housing Payment scheme, so that councils can continue to play a vital role in alleviating financial hardship
- Powers for councils to acquire empty homes, including making it easier to use Compulsory Purchase Order powers to buy properties and help move households on from temporary accommodation
- Setting out plans to deliver a step-change in social housing – the LGA is calling for 100,000 social homes for rent to be delivered every year
Cllr David Renard, LGA housing spokesperson, said: “The Government was right to introduce the ban on evictions, and eviction enforcement, from the start of the pandemic. It gave vital reassurance to families who were at risk of losing their homes.
“We also understand that the ban cannot last indefinitely. However, lifting the ban will leave some households at the cliff-edge of becoming homeless. This is why it is essential we ensure there is a safety net of support in place to prevent this from happening.
“Our six-point plan would help ensure as many people as possible remain in their homes and go towards preventing homelessness from happening in the first place.”
* Source: Local Government Association