A think-tank is calling for the creation of ‘social’ letting agencies with staff who not only find housing but also get people off welfare and into work, and who resolve problems such as drink and drug addiction.
The Centre for Social Justice says these new letting agencies would be set up and managed by charities and other voluntary sector agencies.
The group wants £40m of public cash already earmarked for helping the homeless to be diverted into setting up these agencies.
The CSJ claims there is a decline in the numbers of private landlords willing to rent their properties to housing benefit claimants - roughly five per cent of the workforce or 1.68m people today.
The centre says the aim of the scheme is to switch the burden of risk from reluctant private landlords to the new agencies which would guarantee rent payments to the landlords over a five-year period and undertake to turn around the lives of otherwise unwanted tenants.
The CSJ report notes that private renting is becoming the new norm for low-income families, with their numbers doubling from one million to two million in the last decade.
But those at the bottom of the pile – the ones regarded as least reliable by the private sector – are being left behind, fuelling a rise in homelessness with the numbers of families in temporary accommodation rising from 48,000 at the end of 2010 to nearly 70,000 today, it claims.