Government statistics released earlier this year showed that 4,751 people slept rough in 2017, an increase of 15 per cent. Meanwhile, the number of households in temporary accommodation in England rose by 4 per cent during the year to 78,930. Sixty nine per cent of these households are in London and 5,710 households were in bed and breakfast accommodation.
The Homelessness Commission
The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) has been in force since April, part of the Government’s stated aim to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027, as well as reducing the financial burden of temporary accommodation. Under the Act, councils now have expanded duties to implement housing plans for anyone at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days.
It is for this reason that LGiU launched the Homelessness Commission, led by LGiU’s local government members. Through a series of investigations into how councils can prevent homelessness, the Commission provided practical solutions for making good on the goals of the HRA, as well as a robust set of challenges and demands for central government to provide the right resources, powers and tools for councils to tackle this task.
The Commission was jointly chaired by Cllr Peter Fleming (Leader, Sevenoaks District Council) and Cllr Simon Blackburn (Leader, Blackpool Council). These councils, both LGiU members, have demonstrated innovative and proactive approaches to tackling homelessness and the Co-Chairs will bring their expertise and experience to bear on these crucial discussions.
Through the Commission, developed strong, practical recommendations for councils to tackle homelessness, spread best practice and produce expert evidence, as well as firm demands of central government for the resources, powers and infrastructure that will enable them to do so.
While rough sleeping is a visible and immediate problem across the country that needs to be solved, the homelessness crisis goes way beyond it. Hidden homelessness is widespread and persists in many guises and there are increasing numbers of people sofa surfing, in precarious housing, living in poor conditions, or at constant risk of becoming homeless. For vulnerable people, young people and children, this can have serious negative effects.
Furthermore, there are large geographical disparities in terms of the economics and social infrastructure that have a significant impact on the extent of homelessness in individual areas. Housing markets differ, as do rents and Local Housing Allowance rates. The proximity of some areas to London and other big cities has a sizeable impact as well. This means that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to achieve the aims of the HRA.
Homelessness Commission Launch
Read about the launch of the Homelessness Commission and its terms of reference and why we chose to cover this important area.
Homelessness - The Road to Prevention
In this thoughtful long read Andrew Walker outlines the Commission’s interim findings and discussions on how councils can support vulnerable people, particularly young people, in danger of becoming homeless and how they can use their data to join up services more effectively.
Homelessness Commission final report
A series of four evidence sessions between October 2018 and March 2019 heard from a range of English councils, Dublin City Council and other stakeholders about how councils use data as a homelessness prevention tool, strategies for supporting young people and other vulnerable groups, accessing sustainable accommodation, and finance and funding. Those evidence sessions form the basis of the arguments and recommendations presented in this final report.