Report on Homelessness

Published on Tue, 19th Sep 2017 09:00

The National Audit Office have published a report on homelessness, and the Government don't come out too well.

 The report can be found here, but in summary:-

  • The ending of private sector tenancies has overtaken all other causes to become the biggest single driver of statutory homelessness in England.
  • The affordability of tenancies is likely to have contributed to the increase in homelessness.
  • Changes to Local Housing Allowance are likely to have contributed to the affordability of tenancies for those on benefits, and are an element of the increase in homelessness.
  • Overall public spending on homelessness has increased in recent years.
  • The government has not fully assessed the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness
  • The government has also not evaluated how local authorities are using the funding it has introduced to mitigate the potential impact of its welfare reforms.
  • The ability of local authorities to respond to increased homelessness is constrained by the limited options they have to house homeless families
  • Local authorities have increased their spending on homelessness while simultaneously reducing spending on preventing it.
  • There is significant variation in the type and cost of temporary accommodation that different local authorities use, reflecting their local housing markets.
  • Nearly a third of homeless households have been placed in temporary accommodation outside the local authority where they first registered as homeless.
  • DCLG's approach to working with local authorities in tackling homelessness is ‘light touch’
  • The Department does not have a published cross-government strategy to prevent and tackle homelessness.
  • The Department plans to improve the data the government holds on homelessness, and acknowledges the scale of this challenge.
  • 2 The Department has supported new legislation that will increase the responsibilities of local authorities in preventing homelessness.

The main recommendations are:-

  • The Department (DCLG) should develop and publish a strategy that sets out how it will achieve its objectives relating to homelessness. This should set out the reduction in homelessness it is aiming to achieve and the contribution it expects from different programmes across government.
  • The Department should work with local authorities to establish how they are making use of measures to tackle homelessness, in order to gain a full understanding of effectiveness and share best practice.  
  • The Department should work with local authorities to ensure that they are making the most effective use of temporary accommodation. This work should include enabling local authorities to increase their use of the innovative short-term solutions that they are taking.
  • The government, led by the Department and the Department for Work & Pensions, should develop a much better understanding of the interactions between local housing markets and welfare reform in order to evaluate fully the causes of homelessness.