'Reducing homelessness requires action on a broader policy front' - London Councils' response to rough sleeping announcement

  • By JackGraves

London Councils has welcomed the government's announcement of funding to support reducing rough sleeping, while calling for wider policy challenges to tackle homelessness.  

Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Housing & Planning, said:

“London faces the most severe homelessness crisis in the country, and boroughs welcome both the government’s commitment to ending rough sleeping and this announcement of extra funding.

“However, successfully reducing homelessness requires action on a broader policy front. It’s crucial to secure long-term, strategic investment from the government for local services so that councils can prevent homelessness in the first place and support people to move into permanent homes.

“Housing affordability is a critical factor. Boroughs are clear that the Local Housing Allowance must be increased to help low-income households meet rising rent costs and the government must do more to facilitate delivery of affordable housing – including a new generation of council homes. We’re keen to work with ministers on this agenda and to play our part in reaching crucial homelessness reduction targets.”

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.