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London councils call on Whitehall to urgently expand homelessness services

London Councils has called on the government to enable London boroughs to boost their homeless services.

The group, which represents the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, wants to see the government properly fund the expansion of their homelessness prevention and support services, as described in the Homelessness Reduction Act, due to be implemented on 3 April 2018.

The call comes as new data on homelessness is published today, revealing that between 1 July and 30 September 2017, the number of households accepted as being statutorily homeless increased by 6% compared to the previous quarter.

London Councils says that the expansion of London’s homelessness prevention and support services will cost at least £77m per year.

Currently, the group says that the government has allocated only £10m per year to the capital, despite over 54,000 homeless individuals and families being based there - almost 70% of England’s homeless households.

Last month a report by homeless charity Shelter revealed that the number of homeless people in Britain has increased by 13,000 in just one year, with the London borough of Newham seeing numbers rapidly rise.

London Councils has said that it would welcome a delay in the implementation of the Act until September 2018, as it would allow London boroughs to make essential changes to their housing teams, and recruit additional staff if required.

Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, executive member for housing at London Councils, said that the Act will transform homelessness prevention and relief services and that London is committed to helping people earlier to prevent and address homelessness.

However, he expressed concerns that inadequate funding and unrealistic timescales to make changes will risk leaving thousands of vulnerable people without support.

“We urge government to take our concerns on board and give London boroughs adequate funding – £77m a year according to our estimates – and additional time to deliver these much needed services for Londoners at risk of homelessness or currently living in temporary accommodation,” he said.

Bullock concluded: “Ultimately London also needs a significant boost in the supply of new homes available to rent and to buy, as well as the removal of the Local Housing Allowance cap, in order to tackle the root causes of homelessness.” 

Top image: Yui Mok PA Wire

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