As it stands here in the UK, we’re facing a crisis of homelessness. As we head for another winter, these fears become even more palpable, and there’s a general consensus that something needs to be done.
Following the political party conferences in October, and ahead of the autumn statement in November, we’re joining the ranks of Homeless Link and other homelessness organisations to call for Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to be given as high a priority in the autumn statement as possible.
The stark reality
A lack of available social housing is now pushing record numbers of renters to the private rental sector. But the astronomical prices in the private rental sector, and frozen LHA rates, are in turn forcing people out of their homes with little or no local authority support.
The pressure and demand on services and organisations like Simon on the Streets continues, and yet charity funding is on a constant tightrope, with local services struggling to survive.
March 2023 figures from the government highlighted just how severe the issues are becoming, and what the reality is:
- The number of families in temporary accommodation on 31st March 2023 was up by 4% since the previous quarter, and up 10% from the same day in 2022.
- Families with children living in temporary accommodation in March 2023 increased by 10.3% since March 2022.
- 2.2 of every 1000 households in England were living in temporary accommodation in March 2023.
- On a single night in March 2023, it was estimated 2,447 people were sleeping rough, an increase of 641 on the same night in March 2022.
- The number of calls to local authorities regarding homelessness or threatened homelessness rose to over 80,000 in January-March 2023, the highest number since records began.
All the while, support for homeless charities and organisations is rapidly declining, with many reporting that they’ll soon find themselves unable to survive.
We call for action
We believe many cases involving families in temporary accommodation could be avoided, if the right support and appropriate social housing was available. Not only are we, and other homeless organisations, calling for a greater focus on delivering social housing from political parties, we’re also calling for an end to the freeze on LHA rates - a freeze that has been in place since 2020 and that has contributed to a number of different problems.
Rent costs for new let properties have risen by a fifth on average. This means that the number of private rental properties that are deemed affordable to those on Universal Credit or housing benefits sits at just 5%, a dramatic decrease from 23%.
In short, low-income households on benefits are priced out of private rentals with no social housing to turn to, and a decreasing amount of charitable support to lean on. And so the cycle begins.
The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt has made previous commitments to ‘protect the most vulnerable’. We can only hope that he and his colleagues understand that a failure to adapt LHA will cause far more harm than good, and instead push more families into unsuitable temporary accommodation, or worse, homelessness.
If you’d like to support those facing homelessness, please consider donating to Simon on the Streets. Your donations keep our outreach workers out in the community, supporting those experiencing homelessness to break that vicious cycle. If you’d like to know more about who we are and what we do, please follow our blog and our social channels, and get in touch with the team if you have any questions.