THE Government has launched a £20 million funding scheme intended to help up to 9,000 homeless people put a roof over their heads in the private rented sector.
Announced yesterday by housing secretary James to Brokenshire to mark World Homeless Day, the Private Rented Sector Access Fund is billed as being a key part of the Government’s rough sleeping strategy. It will be used to help set up locally led schemes or expand those that currently exist, with the schemes designed to meet the needs of each local area’s residents and landlords.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) said this could involve councils providing financial support to help people to access or maintain their tenancies, such as paying deposits for the tenancy or rent payments. Alternatively, some schemes may involve the council managing the property on the landlord’s behalf.
“It is vital we give people facing homelessness a route out of it and a chance to rebuild their lives. The private rented sector has an important role in this,” Brokenshire said. “This £20 million fund will allow councils to put in place vital new schemes so that those at risk will have the support to secure their own tenancy.
“It is just one part of the wide-ranging work we are doing to help tackle all forms of homelessness, including our Rough Sleeping Strategy as we ensure more homes are made available for those in need.”
The fund is modelled a successful programme run by homelessness charity Crisis, which supported schemes to help homeless people into thousands of private rental tenancies.
The Crisis Private Rented Sector Access Programme ran from 2010 until 2014, backed by £11 million in funding from the government. The programme supported over 153 schemes across the sector, creating 8,000 tenancies over four years. A total of 90% of these schemes created lasted beyond 6 months.
This month a key part of the Homelessness Reduction Act, the duty to refer, came into force. Under this requirement, patients, prisoners and jobseekers at risk of homelessness must not be referred to their local housing authority. It places new responsibilities on key public bodies such as prisons, Job centres and NHS Trusts to ensure those at risk get the help they need.
Councillor Martin Tett, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, welcomed the funding announcement, but with a caveat.
“It’s positive to see more details of how homeless people will be able to access the private rented sector under this scheme – we look forward to working with government on this,” he said.
“However, if we’re to truly tackle homelessness in this country, we need to be moving much further, much faster. With the loss of a private rented tenancy the leading cause of homelessness, it’s essential that those on the sharp end of our housing crisis are given as much support as possible.
“Councils need urgent action to support them in their fight against homelessness, which is why the Government should devolve all homelessness funding to councils so that they can address the issues around homelessness in their local area.
“Local authorities can help end homelessness if given the tools to build more homes needed locally – it’s hugely positive that the Prime Minister has announced a scrap on the cap preventing councils from borrowing to build new homes, but it is critical that this is implemented as soon as possible.”