- Councils have a proud history of welcoming new arrivals so that they can build new lives in the UK and have huge range of expertise that has informed the development and delivery of that support.
- Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, councils have been working closely with the Government to ensure support for new arrivals and their hosts from Ukraine is put in place quickly and at scale, and families are kept safe. This includes welcome over 160,000 Ukrainians settle into their new communities and access public services, including schools, language support, and other support.
- There are growing concerns for councils as families want to move to more permanent homes and as the situation in Ukraine intensifies. These need joint work across local and central Government as a matter of urgency. Research on experiences of Ukrainians shows clear need to focus on access to housing with almost half (45 per cent) of all respondents experiencing barriers to accessing private rented accommodation.
- In February 2022, the LGA published survey data which highlighted the large numbers of homelessness presentations by Ukrainian refugees. Latest data shows that approaches from Ukrainian nationals has increased by 44 per cent in the last month, which reflects a decrease in the number of sponsors staying in the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Councils will continue to do all they can to help those who are owed homelessness duties but the number of families in temporary accommodation is a growing concern both in terms of cost and outcomes for families.
- Councils have welcomed additional funding to meet housing and homelessness challenges. The £500 million for housing supply will assist in increasing housing supply but it does not come with revenue funding to help families access it. Further clarification on the allocations for and how the £150 million homelessness reduction funding announced in December can be used by councils is urgently needed. There is no funding beyond the first year for councils’ support for families and funding for new arrivals in 2023 has halved, which impacts on the longer term approach needed to meet housing and integration needs.
- Councils need joined up approach and funding across government to ensure there is support and accommodation in place for all groups of new arrivals and all those in housing need. It should take a “heat map” approach to assess the pressures on particular areas to inform planning and procurement and work out solutions to the big cross-cutting issues especially supply of accommodation. These pressures could be alleviated if there were sufficient supply of affordable housing, both private and social. We are calling on central government to deliver a cross departmental homelessness prevention strategy, which looks at the effects of policies relating to welfare and planning on a council’s ability to prevent homelessness.
- Councils are also keen to help support the sponsor relationship and to encourage new sponsors to step forward to support rematching and new arrivals. The ongoing conflict will mean a higher demand for long-term hosting than anyone planned for at the start of the scheme, and we are keen to work with government on the implications for this. The increased thank you payment for long term hosts is therefore welcome.
- However, with inflation and energy costs increasing, it is imperative that support to existing, new or rematched sponsors is increased by the Government. Councils continue to work hard with local partners to deliver the schemes in line with local circumstances and the needs of guests and hosts, including some councils increasing the thank you payment in response to the needs of hosts in that area.
As of 20 February 2023, Councils have helped 163,500 Ukrainians settle in the UK. This has included 47,800 arrivals via Ukraine Family Scheme and 115,800 arrivals via Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme.
4295 Ukrainian households are owed a homelessness prevention or relief duty. 2985 of these are households with dependent children. 1,325 homeless households have come through the Family Scheme and 2,595 from Homes for Ukraine. 735 households are in temporary accommodation.
General lines on housing and homelessness
- According to the latest stats, evictions from private rented continue to increase with the latest quarter’s data showing a 35 per cent increase from the same quarter last year. A breakdown of households owed a prevention duty due to the end of an AST shows the biggest increase was due to rent arrears caused by increases in rent followed by tenant difficulty budgeting or making other payment(s), and change in personal circumstances. Latest data also shows that approaches from Ukrainian nationals has also increased by 44 per cent in the last month which reflects a decrease in the number of sponsors staying in the Homes for Ukraine scheme.
- Councils are also reporting huge supply and affordability issues in the private sector which is becoming an unfeasible option for those reliant on housing related benefits. According to Capital Letters research, as of June 2022 London rents had increased by an average of 15.8 per cent in one year. fall in supply combined with increasing rents means that both the overall size of the pot and the proportion of that pot which is affordable is decreasing. In Q1 of 2022 only 8.8 per cent of all properties listed for rent were affordable on LHA. This is a reduction from 12.9 per cent in the year to Q1 2021. The picture is even more stark for households impacted by the overall Benefit Cap. For a capped single parent household with two children over four years-old only 0.8% properties were affordable. Although these figures are London-centric, we’re receiving corroborating reports on this from a number of councils across England. Shelter research from November 2022 reported that a quarter of private renters - equivalent to 2.8 million people – are constantly struggling to pay their rent, an increase of 24 per cent compared to the same period last year.
- Almost 8 million people in England are estimated to have some form of housing need. For 1.6 million households, social rent tenure is the more appropriate solution to their problems. But LGA research finds that more than one in ten households are on council waiting lists for more than five years. The highest priority council areas for levelling up have some of the greatest concentrations of housing need. Their waiting lists for council accommodation are 56 per cent longer than those in low priority districts, and they have a higher incidence of ‘urgent’ need cases. Social housing is not a viable housing option for most people immediately threatened with homelessness and if they can’t access the private sector, they are likely to require temporary accommodation.
Temporary Accommodation Use
- Official statistics show that households in TA have nearly doubled in the last ten years, with around 55,000 households in TA in 2013 and nearly 100,000 at last count including 125,000 children. The last ten years have also seen a significant increase in the use of expensive nightly paid accommodation. In 2020/2021 councils spent £1.6billion on temporary accommodation use, with a quarter of this spent on B&B accommodation. This reflects the expensive struggle councils face in commissioning the right services when faced with rising demand. If more families face homelessness because their placements fail, councils will struggle to accommodate them appropriately and this will be costly for councils, and damaging for the households placed into TA.
- These pressures could be alleviated if there were sufficient supply of affordable housing, both private and social. We are calling on central government to deliver a cross departmental homelessness prevention strategy, which looks at the effects of policies relating to welfare and planning on a council’s ability to prevent homelessness.
- The LGA is urging government to bring forward the commitment to removing Section 21 evictions as part of renter’s reform. Another crucial element of improving housing security is to give councils the right powers and investment to build 100,000 new social rent homes a year, and to reform the Right to Buy scheme so that it is more sustainable. Government should also use the upcoming Spring Budget to urgently unfreeze Local Housing Allowance rates to ensure that at least a third of the market is affordable for people claiming housing related benefits.