Homelessness services ‘at breaking point’

More than two-thirds of council homelessness services in England spent more than they planned to on support last year.

Figures collated by the LGA have found that seven in 10 councils overspent as a result of rising levels of demand and the increasing cost of using expensive bed and breakfast accommodation to house families.

The LGA is warning that homelessness services are being pushed to breaking point due to high demand driven by a severe shortage of affordable social housing and huge gaps between rents and housing benefits, leaving housing unaffordable for low-income families.

Councils are being left with no choice but to place more and more households into temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts.

LGA analysis shows that 69.3 per cent (226) of councils responsible for housing in England (326) overspent their homelessness budgets. Councils planned to spend a total of £502.7 million in 2018/19. Yet they ended up overspending by a combined total of £140 million – almost 30 per cent more than they had budgeted for.

The LGA is urging the Government to use the Budget to provide councils with sustainable, long-term funding to prevent homelessness in the first place.

It says government needs to give councils the powers and funding to spark a genuine renaissance in council house building to provide the social homes for rent that are desperately needed to help boost affordability, home ownership and reduce homelessness.

Cllr David Renard, the LGA’s Housing Spokesman, said: “Councils want to work with government to be able to prevent homelessness before it happens, but as a result of unprecedented funding pressures, they are becoming increasingly limited in what they can do.

“With adequate funding and powers, councils can boost efforts to prevent homelessness and get back to building the affordable homes the country needs.”

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