Half of England’s local authorities claim it is ‘very difficult’ to assist homeless applicants into privately rented accommodation, according to a report published today by national homelessness charity Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
The report, which includes evidence from 162 of England’s 326 local authorities, reveals that councils are finding it particularly difficult to house homeless young people and large families: 85 per cent of councils say they are having difficulties assisting single people aged 25-34 into accommodation with 88 per cent finding it difficult to house large families.
The findings are from The Homelessness Monitor: England, an annual independent study funded by Crisis and JRF. Drawing on a national survey of councils, statistical analysis and in-depth interviews, the report analyses the impact of economic and policy developments on homelessness.
The report raises particular concern for the future of single young people, who are identified as being at far higher risk of homelessness than older adults due to rising unemployment, spiralling rents and, especially, declining benefit protection. Some 94 per cent of councils stated they anticipate greater difficulties in finding accommodation for homeless 25 to 34 year olds in the next two to three years.
The overwhelming majority of responding councils also expressed concerns that the rollout of Universal Credit will further exacerbate homelessness, mainly due to the potential impact on landlords’ willingness to let to homeless people. Meanwhile, welfare cuts and Local Housing Allowance falling well short of rents in many locations were also cited as major barriers to councils’ attempts to house homeless applicants.
Nearly 58,000 people were accepted as homeless by their council in 2015/16 – 18,000 higher than 2009/10. Meanwhile, placements in temporary accommodation have risen sharply, with the national total up by nine per cent in the year to 30 June 2016, a rise of 52 per cent compared to 2009/10.
“Until the number of truly affordable rented homes increases significantly, councils will continue to come under huge financial pressure, with dreadful consequences for the most vulnerable in our society” says Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis.
“Private renting is often the only choice homeless people have. That’s why Crisis is calling on the government to invest in schemes that support people into the private rented sector, such as establishing and underwriting a national rent deposit guarantee. The government is already pouring billions into ‘Help to Buy’ support. What we really need is ‘Help to Rent’."