250,000 households helped since homelessness law introduced

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Almost a quarter of a million households which were homeless or at risk of becoming so have been helped since the introduction of new legislation in 2018, according to a Government review.

Some 243,680 households have had their homelessness prevented or relieved since the Homelessness Reduction Act came into force, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.

A review of the act, which came into force in April 2018, found 365,000 single households were assessed under the law as being owed help from local authorities.

Of these, 28,000 people had a history of rough sleeping, and more than 15,000 people were rough sleeping at the time of their assessment.

Roughly three in five duties to prevent homelessness ended due to the individual securing accommodation for at least six months, MHCLG said.

The act placed a duty on councils to try to prevent homelessness, and on public bodies to refer those at risk of becoming homeless.

It was intended to shift the culture of homelessness services towards prevention and remove barriers stopping people accessing help.

But an independent report, produced for the Government by the ICF consulting and technology services company, found local authorities struggled with “significant challenges” in responding to the act.

Half of 224 local authorities in England said insufficient access to housing was a significant challege, with 68% of London boroughs saying so.

The report says this reflects the importance of adequate affordable housing in “determining the ability of local authorities to effectively help service users”.

And over a third (39%) cited concerns about the sufficiency and certainty of future central government funding and grants.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter said, “The Homelessness Reduction Act as been an important step forward as more people have been able to access help when faced with homelessness.

“But legislation alone will not solve our housing emergency. As the government’s review shows, homeless people are seeing very poor outcomes due to the severly limited numbers of affordable homes available.

“So, even if people are assessed they are still at risk of losing their home and councils struggle to help them find another.

“Without addressing the lack of genuinely affordable homes that is at the root of the current crisis, more people are ending up in expensive, insecure and poor quality temporary accommodation.

“Ultimately if the government wants to reach it’s goal to end rough sleeping by the end of this parliament, it must urgently invest to start building decent, secure social homes now.”

The MHCLG said the act is “meeting its goal of helping people who previously wouldn’t have had access to support”.

Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing Kelly Tolhurst said: “The action that this Government is taking to support the most vulnerable people in our society has helped nearly a quarter of a million people who were homeless or at risk of homelessness to find long-term accommodation.

“The Homelessness Reduction Act is working well, with councils supporting the most vulnerable, meaning many more people who may not previously have been eligible for support now have the help they need.

“This Government is committed to ending rough sleeping for good by the end of this Parliament, and we’ve backed this up with over half a billion pounds of funding this year alone.”

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