The Leader of our council has joined with his counterparts across the country in calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to consider a range of interventions to address the causes of homelessness and enable local authorities to increase the supply of social housing.
Cllr Jeremy Newmark was among the signatories of a letter to the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt ahead of his Autumn Statement, highlighting that 96 per cent of councils are reporting an increased use of temporary accommodation.
Cllr Newmark commented: “An unprecedented number of people are turning to local authorities like ours for support when they face homelessness.
“Although we are committed to providing help to those people who are facing crisis point and proud to do so, our situation is becoming untenable. We have no option but to increase our use of temporary accommodation, placing additional pressure on our budgets.”
Portfolio Holder for Housing and Housing Development, Cllr Alan Matthews added: The cost-of-living crisis has caused an increase in homeless demand, while Government action in capping Housing Benefits and increased interest rates have resulted in the contraction of the private sector. This has created a perfect storm where more and more families are reliant on social housing at a time when the supply of homes has fallen drastically.
Cllr Matthews continued: “This goes wider than just homelessness and impacts on the growing number of families on the housing register and transfer list (often with acute needs affecting their health and wellbeing) who are facing lengthy waits for suitable accommodation
Among the interventions called for in the joint letter are to:
- Raise Local Housing Allowance rates to a level that will cover at least 30% of local market rent and commit to annual uprating.
- Provide £100m additional funding for Discretionary Housing Payments in 2023-24 and an additional £200m in 2024-25.
- Provide a £150m top-up to the Homelessness Prevention Grant for 2024-25.
- Review the cap for housing benefit subsidy rate for local authority homelessness placements.
- Develop policy to stimulate retention and supply in the privately rented sector.
- Give councils the long-term funding, flexibility and certainty needed to increase the supply of social housing.
Cllr Newmark concluded: “These measures will be cost effective by ensuring homelessness is prevented and reducing public expenditure in the future. The human cost of homelessness and inadequate housing is immense and we are calling on the government to act urgently to prevent it getting worse.”
Posted on Friday 10th November 2023