Debate on government action to find multi-agency solutions to homelessness, House of Lords, 12 September 2018

Councils are providing temporary housing for over 70,000 households, including over 120,000 children. The net cost has tripled in the last three years.


Key messages

  • Homelessness is a tragedy for all those it affects and is one of the most visible signs of the nation’s housing crisis. Councils are providing temporary housing for over 70,000 households, including over 120,000 children. The net cost has tripled in the last three years.
  • We welcome the Government’s rough sleeping strategy, and share the ambition to end rough sleeping by 2027. The strategy includes some encouraging proposals, such as the piloting of Somewhere Safe to Stay schemes for those at immediate risk of sleeping rough.
  • The rough sleeping strategy is a positive step towards a multi-agency approach to homelessness. However, it lacks substantive measures to ensure that fewer people reach the point of crisis. These include adapting welfare reforms and a large increase in the supply of social housing.
  • The Local Housing Allowance (LHA) is paid to low-income families in the private rented sector to help with high housing costs. To prevent homelessness, we are calling for the LHA freeze to be lifted entirely, and for the Government to work with landlords to provide more affordable private housing.
  • Local government fully supports the Homelessness Reduction Act, and we want to make a success of the new legislation. We are, however, concerned that the new burdens funding for councils is likely to fall short of the total costs of delivering the duties in the Act.
  • Councils want to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place. This means allowing councils to build more social homes for people on low incomes. To achieve this, the Government should lift the housing borrowing cap entirely, and allow councils to retain 100 per cent of the proceeds from Right to Buy sales.

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