New homelessness data demonstrates the need for “emergency action” to tackle the worsening crisis, London Councils has said.
The latest government statistics on homelessness in England (covering October to December 2022) show 101,300 households in temporary accommodation – the highest figure since 2005.
London accounts for around two-thirds of England’s temporary accommodation total. From surveying boroughs in the capital, London Councils’ most recent analysis suggests 166,000 homeless Londoners – equivalent to the entire population of a city such as Oxford – live in temporary accommodation.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning, said:
“These figures are the latest evidence of a homelessness crisis spiralling out of control.
“The situation is particularly bad in London due to the combination of cost-of-living pressures, a chronic shortage of affordable housing, and with rising rents and fewer properties available in the private rented sector.
“Boroughs do everything we can to support homeless households, but things cannot go on as they are. Homelessness has a devastating impact on people experiencing it, particularly children, and also leads to unsustainable pressure on council budgets.
“Emergency action is needed from the government to help households avoid homelessness and to reduce the number in temporary accommodation.”
London Councils is urging the government to:
Raise Local Housing Allowance. LHA has been frozen since 2020, but private rents have skyrocketed since then. As a result, there is a dramatically reduced number of properties affordable to low-income households reliant on benefits. Boroughs believe LHA should be increased so that it covers at least 30% of local market rates.
Boost Homelessness Prevention Grant Funding. Local authorities play a vital role in supporting struggling households to avoid homelessness. Councils require an emergency funding increase to ensure local services have the resources needed in the face of rising levels of demand for support.
Increase Discretionary Housing Payments. These payments are used by councils to help residents in financial crisis meet their housing costs. They are an essential homelessness prevention tool, but government funding for Discretionary Housing Payments in 2023-24 has been frozen at 2022-23 levels, despite significantly increasing homelessness pressures.
Bring forward a cross-departmental strategy to reduce homelessness. Tackling homelessness must become a major priority at a national level with government departments working together – in addition to key partners such as local authorities – as effectively as possible.