COUNCILS say they are struggling to cope with the rising numbers of people facing homelessness, according to a survey by the Local Government Association (LGA).
The problem is compounded by a lack of genuinely affordable housing, which means more people are being placed in temporary and emergency accommodation.
The findings come ahead of the anniversary of the Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into force on 1 April last year. The legislation placed a renewed focus on homelessness prevention and introduced a range of new duties on councils.
“Behind every instance of homelessness lies an individual tragedy and councils are determined to prevent it from happening and support homeless people in their communities into accommodation as quickly and as effectively as possible,” said Councillor Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesperson.
“Many councils have updated their homelessness prevention strategies since the Act was introduced last year. But a lack of affordable housing has left many struggling to cope with rising number of people coming to them for help and having to place more families and households into temporary and emergency accommodation as a result.
“This is bad for families and communities, expensive for councils and not the aim of the Act.”
Since 2017, local authorities have been housing more than 200,000 households in temporary accommodation, including in bed and breakfasts, hostels and private rented accommodation, with over half of them children, says the LGA.
With the number of homelessness presentations continuing to rise across England since the introduction of the Act, the number of households in temporary accommodation is now up more than 70% since 2010 and the burden on councils and their budgets will continue to increase, the organisation warned.
According to the LGA’s survey:
- Eight in 10 councils have seen an increase in homelessness presentations since the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act
- Six in 10 councils said it had increased the number of people being housed in temporary and emergency accommodation. The same number of councils say the length of time people spend in temporary and emergency accommodation has increased
- Limited access to affordable housing and a lack of suitable accommodation for people already sleeping rough is a serious concern for 91% of councils
- Councils across the country say excessive levels of paperwork required by the Act are costing them too much in administration costs and are hampering their ability to meet the needs of people at risk of homelessness
The LGA said it is “crucial” that councils can keep 100% of the receipts of any homes they sell to replace them and reinvest in building more of the genuinely affordable homes they desperately need and adapt welfare reforms to prevent people from losing their home where possible.
Tett added: “The wider factors that are increasing homelessness also need to be addressed if the Act is to be a success. Councils need to keep 100% of Right to Buy sales receipts to replace homes sold and to adapt welfare reforms to protect families at risk of homelessness and prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.”