Homelessness in London to reach ‘highest ever levels’ by Christmas


Homelessness in London is expected to reach its highest ever levels by Christmas, boroughs have warned.

London Councils said the capital faces the “most severe homelessness crisis” in the country and a “triple whammy” of the government ending the eviction ban, Covid emergency funding and the furlough scheme over the coming months could see thousands more families pushed into temporary local authority-funded accommodation.

Figures released by the cross-party group show there are now 165,000 Londoners living in temporary accommodation – more than the entire population of cities such as Norwich or Oxford, and double the number of 10 years ago. Some 90,000 are children.

Last year boroughs collectively spent more than £1.2billion on the homelessness crisis and have called on the government to increase investment in services.

London Councils’ executive member for housing and leader of Barking and Dagenham council Darren Rodwell said: “There’s a very real risk of London’s homelessness crisis getting even worse. In the coming months we can expect a triple whammy of continuing job losses in the capital, the imminent lifting of the evictions ban, and uncertainty over future funding levels for local homelessness services.

“Boroughs are doing everything we can to tackle homelessness in the capital, but ultimately we need the government to rethink its welfare policies and to boost long-term funding for local services if we’re to reverse these disastrous trends.”

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Homelessness in London previously peaked in 2005 when there were 63,800 households in temporary accommodation. Today there are 60,680 households, as well as some 3,600 rough sleepers who were placed in emergency housing during the pandemic.

Almost a quarter of a million London households are also on council house waiting lists.

London Councils said if the government confirmed social rent levels for the next ten years and ended restrictions on how town halls can use Right to Buy sales receipts boroughs would be in a much “stronger financial position to invest in new social homes”.

The government is giving councils across the country £203 million through its Rough Sleeping Initiative fund, which was created to help local authorities get people off the streets. It is part of the £750 million pledged to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year.

The government has said four-month notice periods landlords have to give tenants will be in place from June 1 until at least the end of September.

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