LGA responds to Local Government Ombudsman Report on homelessness

Responding to a report by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman on the Homelessness Reduction Act, Cllr David Renard, Housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said:

“This report provides helpful insight into how councils can best meet the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA).

“Councils fully support the principles of the HRA. However, significant and ongoing funding challenges have limited their ability to fully deliver the Act and prevent homelessness.

“In 2018/19 alone, councils overspent on homelessness services by a combined total of £140 million due to an increase in demand for homelessness services, and a lack of affordable housing to accommodate people at risk of homelessness.

“Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, councils have worked incredibly hard to get the overwhelming majority – nearly 15,000 – of rough sleepers into housing. This is a momentous achievement but has exacerbated funding issues. Councils continue to face significant extra cost pressures and huge income losses as a result of the pandemic.

“Councils need to be fully funded for service delivery and loss of income so that they can effectively deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act and keep people from experiencing homelessness.

“We would like to see the Government temporarily remove the No Recourse to Public Funds condition during the current crisis to reduce public health risks and pressures on homelessness services by enabling people to access welfare benefits.

“We are also calling for a ban on section 21 or “no fault” evictions to be introduced as soon as possible to keep people out of homelessness, and for councils to be able to keep 100 per cent of receipts from Right to Buy sales so they can build more homes.”