The homelessness crisis in the UK has reached alarming levels, with the Local Government Association (LGA) warning that a record-breaking 104,000 households found themselves in temporary accommodation by March 2023, marking an 89% increase in the past decade and the highest figure since records began in 1998.
Rising Costs and Frozen LHA Rates Driving Homelessness
The severe shortage of social housing has left councils with no choice but to pay for temporary accommodation in the private sector, including hotels and Bed & Breakfast (B&Bs), to provide shelter while people wait for a permanent home. This has amounted to a staggering £1.74 billion in costs for councils during the 2022/23 fiscal year.
The LGA underscores that the rising cost of living, coupled with frozen Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates, are the driving forces behind the surging rates of homelessness. These factors are also constraining councils in their efforts to secure suitable accommodation for those in need.
The LGA is urging the government to use the upcoming Autumn Statement to take significant steps in addressing this crisis. Their recommendations include restoring LHA rates to cover the bottom 30th percentile of local rents, further reforming the Right to Buy scheme, and offering a long-term rent deal for council landlords. Additionally, the LGA is calling for long-term funding certainty for local governments to facilitate the construction of 100,000 high-quality, climate-friendly social homes annually.
Asylum and Resettlement Schemes Exacerbate Supply and Demand Challenges
The LGA is also shining a spotlight on the challenges posed by asylum and resettlement schemes, which further exacerbate the issue of supply and demand. With ongoing programs such as accelerated asylum decisions and the closure of hotels housing Afghan households, the current situation is compounded by new arrivals from Afghanistan. All of this is unfolding alongside winter pressures and continued support for homeless Ukrainian and Afghan households.
The clearance of the asylum backlog, in particular, raises concerns about destitution and an increase in rough sleeping numbers. As the homelessness crisis continues to escalate, the LGA is emphasising the urgency of addressing these issues, ensuring that councils have the resources and support necessary to provide suitable accommodation for those in need and foster healthier and happier communities.
The ongoing challenges in the UK's housing sector underscore the need for a comprehensive and sustainable solution to ensure that temporary accommodation becomes a last resort, not a long-term reality for those experiencing homelessness.
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