Responding to a new report from the charity Crisis on the impact of the Homelessness Reduction Act, Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:
“This research lays bare the unsustainable pressures on hard-pressed homelessness services.
“The situation is particularly severe in London, where we face the worst homelessness crisis in the country. London boroughs are committed to supporting homeless Londoners as best we can and making a success of the Homelessness Reduction Act, but this can’t be done on the cheap and we urgently need more resources for our frontline work.
“The government must use the Budget to boost funding for local homelessness services. We’re also calling on ministers to support the measures desperately needed to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place – including restoring housing benefit to levels that will improve affordability and giving councils the powers we need to build social housing at significant scale.”
London currently accounts for two-thirds of homelessness in England. There are 57,000 London households living in temporary accommodation, including 88,000 children. More than half (56%) of London’s homeless households are in work. London boroughs urgently need increased funding to deliver homelessness services given these pressures and their increased duties under the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
Homelessness in London is driven by a chronic lack of affordable housing. London boroughs are determined to build the homes that Londoners need, but lack the powers and resources to deliver housing at sufficient scale. London Councils is calling on the government to end all restrictions on the use of Right to Buy receipts (so that every penny raised from council house sales can be invested in local replacements) and to confirm long-term social rent levels (to increase the feasibility of social housing investment).
Local Housing Allowance (LHA) provides crucial support for low-income Londoners renting privately and changes to how it is calculated are clearly linked with increased homelessness. Restrictions to LHA have greatly reduced the number of properties affordable to low-income Londoners – analysis by London Councils has confirmed only 8% of properties in London are now affordable. Increasing LHA is the most effective short-term tool available for reducing homelessness and London Councils want to see it increased to at least the 30th percentile of market rents. This will place downward pressure on homelessness as tenants are better able to sustain their tenancies.