Family homelessness in London is rising at a faster rate than across England, with councils struggling to provide temporary accommodation, according to research from EY and London Councils.
The demand on temporary accommodation is particularly severe in London where the increase in the number of families accepted as homeless has increased by 51% compared with the national equivalent of 15% since 2011.
Data available from 20 of London’s 33 local authorities showed that gross cost of temporary accommodation reached £663m in 2014-15 and the level of spend met by London boroughs from their own general funds can be estimated at just over one quarter of that cost, or £170m.
This week EY and London Councils teamed up to launch London Ventures, an innovation programme, which will focus on how the public, private and third sectors can work together to support some of London’s biggest local public services challenges including combatting homelessness.
Edward Lord OBE, chair of the London Ventures board, said: “People become and stay homeless for a whole range of complex and overlapping reasons and solving homelessness is about much more than putting a roof over people's heads.
“Councils are facing unprecedented challenges in the coming years and we know from experience that collaborative and co-operative working with other sectors can provide innovative solutions to these challenges.”
‘Unsustainable’ costs of lengthy stays in temporary accommodation
Research found that there are high-length of stays in temporary accommodation in London especially for private sector stays. 29% of families in temporary accommodation had spent less than six months in temporary accommodation, 61% had spent less than two years and 21% had spent five or more years there. The London Ventures programme is seeking to reduce the cost for temporary accommodation by preventing statutory homelessness and by managing the use of more expensive forms of accommodation.
Mr Lord added: “Temporary accommodation should never be a long-term solution for councils but we’re now seeing an unsustainable amount being spent, especially on private sector housing stock.
“Despite all the great work currently underway to prevent homelessness in the first place, unless we see a step-change in how we tackle these issues, local authorities and Londoners will continue to feel the strain.”
Private sector players and charities to work together
London councils are battling huge budget cuts over the coming years and are looking to work with other sectors, notably the private sector and charities to improve services and cut costs. In addition, with councils in London warned of a £600m funding gap in social care by 2020, boroughs may not be able to deliver essential services to vulnerable residents.
Neil Sartorio, Head of Local Public Services at EY, said: “Homelessness is not only a social problem, but has a wider detrimental effect on public finances and businesses and organisations simply cannot sit idly by.
“By using partnering with the public and third sector, we can provide the environment to test new ideas and approaches quickly with financial support and resources. We can also share the latest innovations in technology and our insights gleaned from working with our clients to help reduce overall costs and improve effectiveness of these vital services.”
Notes to editors:
About London Ventures:
Set up as part of the Capital Ambition Board, which brings together all 32 boroughs and the City of London, London Ventures offers a portfolio of products, services and solutions that use cutting-edge technology to reduce costs and improve effectiveness of services, from social care to administration.
To learn more, download the London Ventures Handbook.