Challenge to provide temporary accommodation in London

  • By Gemma Kappala-R...

A perfect storm of market conditions and policy changes means that providing temporary accommodation for homeless individuals and families is increasingly challenging for London boroughs, according to an independent report commissioned by London Councils.

The University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy report examines the temporary accommodation market in London and highlights evidence from the boroughs that explains why finding sufficient properties for homeless households has become harder.

London now has over 50,000 households living in temporary accommodation and the pressure is stretching local authorities to breaking point.

Temporary accommodation costs have traditionally been met by central government through the Temporary Accommodation (TA) management fee, paid through the housing benefit system. However, the overheated rental market in the capital has led to this being increasingly made up by boroughs’ General Funds, reducing the ability of councils to fund other services.

The report finds evidence of substantial under-estimation of the cost of temporary accommodation because government funding no longer keeps pace with spiralling costs. It also examines the reasons for this, including the nature of the private rental market in London, the sophistication of landlords in responding to policy interventions and the impact of welfare reform.

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, London Councils’ Executive member for housing, said:

“Boroughs are committed to doing their best for homeless families. They continue to develop ways to reduce the costs of temporary accommodation and are considering the recommendations of this report. But without sufficient resources, it is becoming harder and harder to find suitable accommodation for London’s growing homeless population.

“The Spending Review signalled a change in the administration of the TA management fee but the government now needs to acknowledge the wider cost of homelessness for London boroughs and review the funding available in light of these pressures.

“The government must recognise the unique pressures affecting London’s housing market and work with the boroughs to further drive an increase in the supply of suitable permanent homes for families in temporary accommodation to move into, reducing the demand for temporary accommodation.”

Click here to download the report.