Study reveals councils in England struggle to house homeless people



The majority of councils in England are struggling to find permanent housing for homeless people, a new report has revealed today.

In the annual Homelessness Monitor England study, carried out by academics from Heriot-Watt University for Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – it was revealed councils have become increasingly reliant on temporary accommodation.

Out of 186 councils surveyed 70 per cent said they had difficulties finding social housing for homeless people last year, while 89 per cent reported struggling to find private rented accommodation.

The problem of rising homelessness is not limited to London, with only 40 per cent of councils in London reporting the number of people seeking help had risen during the past year compared with 76 per cent in the Midlands, 70 per cent in the south and 62 per cent in the north.

Councils have become increasingly reliant on temporary accommodation, which includes B&Bs and hostels.

The latest government statistics show that 78,000 households are in temporary accommodation and the report's authors said if current trends continue more than 100,000 such households will be trapped in temporary accommodation by 2020.

Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick, leading homelessness academic and the report's lead author, said: “This year's Homelessness Monitor has again, provided evidence of the profound, cumulative and adverse impact of welfare reform on access to housing for low-income groups, especially in high-value markets.

“The options are narrowing for local authorities charged with preventing and resolving homelessness, as benefit-reliant households are entirely priced out of the private rented sector in some parts of the country. At the same time, homeless people's access to a diminishing pool of social tenancies is increasingly constrained by landlord nervousness about letting to households whose incomes are now so very low that even properties let at social rents can be unaffordable to them.

“The upward trend in sharing households, and the declining ability of younger adults to form separate households across England, is testimony to the growing pressures in the market more broadly. While much attention has rightly, focussed on the structural difficulties associated with Universal Credit, such as waiting times, the more fundamental and pernicious impacts for the poorest households are associated with the caps and freezing of Local Housing Allowance and other working age benefits.”