Jones replaces DWP fee with new homelessness grant to allow councils ‘flexibility’

A new grant to tackle homelessness that will provide £402m over the next two years and allow councils “more control and flexibility” over budgets was announced yesterday by the government.

In a parliamentary statement by communities minister Marcus Jones MP, it was revealed that the grant, called the Flexible Homelessness Support Grant, would be brought in to replace the previous Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) fee.

The statement read: “We have published the funding allocations for the grant over two years so councils will know with more certainty how much they will receive under the new system.

“We will announce allocations for 2019-20 during 2017-18. The funding has been allocated according to a formula which reflects relative homeless pressures, while at the same time aiming to protect local authorities which currently have high levels of temporary accommodation.”

The new grant has also promised that no council would receive less annual funding than they would have received under the DWP fee, adding that first-year allocations will include extra funds for councils with particularly high temporary accommodation levels.

“This government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society, which is why we’re investing £550m to 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping,” Jones argued.

The minister added that the government had brought in “a raft of measures” over the last few months, including funding homelessness projects in 225 local authorities as well as changing the law by backing Bob Blackman MP’s Homelessness Reduction Bill, which looks to support people at risk of losing their homes.

“We’re now going further and giving councils greater flexibility, so they can move away from costly intervention when a household is already homeless, to preventing this happening in the first place,” said Jones.

The Flexible Homelessness Support Grant forms part of the government’s wider approach to addressing the issue of homelessness in the UK, which includes the £315m homelessness prevention funding alongside a £50m homelessness prevention package and £61m worth of new burdens for the Homelessness Reduction Bill.

The grant comes after Cllr Michelle Lowe told PSE earlier this month that homelessness was not an issue that could be solved through legislation alone, calling on Parliament to support local councils more in trying to reduce the number of rough sleepers on the streets.

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David Sheard   20/03/2017 at 12:30

Over the years we have seen many responsibilities and grants devolved to Local Authorities only to see the grant disappearing after a couple of years leaving a responsibility with no funding. This is usually abled "flexibility"

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