London Councils has responded to a new report from the housing charity Shelter showing that one in 58 Londoners is homeless, with the capital’s homelessness pressures the most acute in the country.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning, said: “These devastating figures reveal that London remains the epicentre of the homelessness crisis.
“Everyone deserves a permanent home, but the chronic shortage of affordable housing in the capital means too many Londoners find themselves homeless and reliant on temporary accommodation arranged by their local council. The numbers are so high they are equivalent to the entire population of a London borough.
“We’re concerned that cost-of-living pressures mean this desperate situation will get even worse before it gets better. Councils across the capital are seeing more and more residents turning to us for help.
“We urgently need renewed action on tackling homelessness, especially through making better use of the welfare system to help low-income households with their housing costs and through investing in the new affordable homes our communities are crying out for.”
London Councils is pushing for several changes to national policy on housing and homelessness, including:
• An increase in the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) to improve support for low-income households in the private rented sector struggling to meet their housing costs. London Councils believes LHA rates should be increased to cover at least 30% of local market rates. The government’s decision to boost LHA at the height of the Covid-19 emergency was a key factor in preventing greater homelessness and London boroughs want to see a similar response to the current economic pressures facing households
• More long-term investment in affordable housing, particularly in homes for social rent. Boroughs want an end to the restrictions on how local authorities use the money raised from council house sales so that every penny raised can be reinvested in building a replacement home rather than sent to the Treasury
• Ensuring boroughs’ homelessness services are sufficiently funded – including keeping pace with inflation – to meet the rising level of homelessness in London and deliver on their statutory duties. Boroughs also need longer-term certainty over government funding grants and other key aspects of housing policy, such as setting social rent levels. This will strengthen boroughs’ ability to plan services in response to local needs.