“Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, councils have worked incredibly hard to get the overwhelming majority – nearly 15,000 – of rough sleepers into housing. This is a momentous achievement but has exacerbated funding issues."
Responding to a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman on the Homelessness Reduction Act, Cllr David Renard, Housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said:
“This report provides helpful insight into how councils can best meet the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA).
“Councils fully support the principles of the HRA. However, significant and ongoing funding challenges have limited their ability to fully deliver the Act and prevent homelessness.
“In 2018/19 alone, councils overspent on homelessness services by a combined total of £140 million due to an increase in demand for homelessness services, and a lack of affordable housing to accommodate people at risk of homelessness.
“Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, councils have worked incredibly hard to get the overwhelming majority – nearly 15,000 – of rough sleepers into housing. This is a momentous achievement but has exacerbated funding issues. Councils continue to face significant extra cost pressures and huge income losses as a result of the pandemic.
“Councils need to be fully funded for service delivery and loss of income so that they can effectively deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act and keep people from experiencing homelessness.
“We would like to see the Government temporarily remove the No Recourse to Public Funds condition during the current crisis to reduce public health risks and pressures on homelessness services by enabling people to access welfare benefits.
“We are also calling for a ban on section 21 or “no fault” evictions to be introduced as soon as possible to keep people out of homelessness, and for councils to be able to keep 100 per cent of receipts from Right to Buy sales so they can build more homes.”
33,270 households were initially assessed by local authorities as homeless between October and December 2019, and therefore owed a relief duty, an increase of 12.3 per cent from October to December 2018.
LGA analysis of overspending in councils’ homelessness services found that 69.3 per cent (226) of councils responsible for housing in England (326) overspent their homelessness budgets. Councils planned to spend a total of £502.7 million in 2018/19. Yet they ended up overspending by a combined total of £140 million – almost a third more than they had budgeted for.
The LGA represents more than 330 councils of all types across England. We work on behalf of our members to support, promote and improve local government.
It is councils who had led communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Our recent polling shows that 71 per cent of residents trust their council and two thirds are satisfied with the way their local council runs things in their area. Our new discussion paper - Re-thinking local - sets out how councils must now be empowered to locally-lead the COVID-19 recovery and tackle the economic, environmental and community challenges that we will face as a result of the pandemic.