A chronic shortage of affordable housing is forcing councils to spend more than £2m a day on temporary accommodation for homeless families, according to a local government group.
The Local Government Association, which represents more than 350 councils in England and Wales, is calling on government to use this week’s Budget to free councils from borrowing limits hampering their ability to build new homes, and to adapt welfare reforms to protect families at risk of homelessness.
The number of affordable homes built in 2015/16 fell by 52 per cent and was the lowest number in 24 years. Just 6,554 social rented homes were built in the same year.
A steady decline in affordable housing and squeezes on household incomes has seen the number of households local authorities have been forced to place in temporary accommodation rise by 50 per cent since 2010.
Almost 75,000 households are currently living in temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfasts, hostels and private rented accommodation. This is bad for families and communities and expensive for councils.
The GLA claims this is a crisis that is spreading nationwide. Since 2010, the use of temporary accommodation has gone up 44 per cent in London and 67 per cent across the rest of England.
The LGA is also calling for a temporary lifting of the Local Housing Allowance freeze to help ensure the provision of accommodation for vulnerable families.
“Funding pressures are combining with a lack of affordable housing and private sector rents rising above household incomes to increase homelessness. It is also leaving many councils struggling to find suitable accommodation for those in need, particularly those who are young, vulnerable, or with families” says Lord Porter, the LGA chairman.
“With councils continuing to face huge financial pressures, it is unsustainable for them to have to spend £2m a day to house vulnerable people at the sharp end of our housing crisis. A renaissance in housebuilding by councils and a plan to reduce the squeeze on household incomes are both needed if we are to stand any chance of solving our housing crisis, reducing homelessness and the use of temporary accommodation, and sustainably reducing the housing benefit bill” he adds.