Poverty and Inequality

02.01.19

Councils ‘ripped off’ by private landlords spending £1bn on homeless accommodation

Private housing providers are “ripping off” struggling councils as new figures show that local authorities’ spending on temporary accommodation for the homeless has risen to almost £1bn.

Growing numbers of homeless and rough sleepers have seen councils across England spend £997m on temporary accommodation in 2017-18, a 71% increase compared to 2012-13.

Analysis by Shelter and The Guardian found that some councils are spending as much as £200 per head of their populations on sheltering homeless households.

The number of rough sleepers in the UK has risen for each of the last seven years, and at the end of June 2018 there were 82,300 families in temporary accommodation – a 47% increase over the last five years.

The problem is particularly severe in London, with all 32 of the capital’s boroughs amongst the top 45 local authorities with the highest per-capita spend on temporary accommodation. Almost 70% of England’s homeless families are based in the capital, and in many cases, landlords can make more profit from the bottom-end of the housing market if properties are rented to councils for homeless households.

Cllr Darren Rodwell, executive member for housing and planning at London Councils, said: “These figures show how local authorities and taxpayers are being ripped off by failings in the national approach to this issue.

“The government needs to take action. It’s clear we can’t keep relying on increasingly expensive private-sector accommodation, so more must be done to boost provision of social housing.”

On Monday, James Brokenshire announced that he was giving £38m in funding to London’s boroughs through a new scheme to provide thousands of additional homes for vulnerable families.

The scheme, part of the government’s £1.2bn investment to tackle homelessness, will aim to encourage the boroughs to collaborate and work together to drive down prices.

Image credit - Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

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