Poverty and Inequality

03.05.18

Councils turn away thousands of homeless youth due to lack of funding

A leading charity has today revealed that the majority of young homeless (or at risk of homelessness) people who reached out to local government were not met with “positive actions”, leading to their homelessness not “being successfully prevented or dealt with.”

The freedom of information request from homeless charity Centrepoint found 58 per cent of the 86,000 young people who approached their local authority in 2016/17 failed to have their issue resolved, leading to calls for more investment into local councils to reduce youth homelessness.

The report, published yesterday, noted that only 1 in 10 of these young people were accepted as statutorily homeless, a term that describes anyone who is unintentionally homeless in ‘priority need’, which includes under 18s, pregnant women and those with severe mental or physical health needs.

Over half (54%) of homeless young people left their last settled home because their parents, other relatives or friends were no longer willing to accommodate them.

Parents no longer willing or able to accommodate their children was by far the biggest reason for a young person to be homeless, with 38 per cent of interactions logged citing this as the reason.

London received the largest intake of young homeless people from 2016/17 with 10,500 reports logged into their records. The north west region was a second, receiving 9,200 requests for help in finding accommodation from the nation’s youth.

The charity believes that English councils could have to assess 45,000 more vulnerable under-25s on top of the current intake, under the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA).

In its recommendations, the report called on central government to “provide tools and guidance” to local councils to collect all data on youth homelessness and determine the scale of the problem nationally.

The report said: “Central government and local authorities must work together to ensure the Homelessness Reduction Act funding is allocated appropriately. The additional financial costs to local authorities inherent in the HRA must be matched by funding from central government.

“Local authority staff are responsible for data collection and recording and must be held accountable for quality. Central government must then act on the local needs reflected in the data by ensuring that funding is distributed appropriately.”

Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, said: “Councils understand that every single person experiencing homelessness is facing an individual tragedy, and are determined to protect residents, especially young people, by preventing homelessness from happening in the first place.

“Local authorities do all they can to support homeless people in their communities into appropriate accommodation as quickly and as effectively as possible, but the reality is that demand for this support is growing, at the same time as councils face significant funding pressures.

“We also need to see the full range of public bodies to cooperate with councils in addressing homelessness, and in the long term, it’s crucial that all councils are able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.”

 

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