National Audit Office (NAO) has reported that homelessness has increased according to all measures since 2010.
In fact, launching a report into the subject, Amyas Morse (head of the NAO) released the following statement:
“Homelessness in all its forms has significantly increased in recent years, driven by several factors. Despite this, government has not evaluated the impact of its reforms on this issue. And there remain gaps in its approach. It is difficult to understand why the Department persisted with its light touch approach in the face of such a visible growing problem. Its recent performance in reducing homelessness therefore cannot be considered value for money”
Of course the root causes of homelessness are complex and varied, but it is about time that the intransigence of government is highlighted as a contributing factor.
Local Housing Allowance rates have been frozen for some time, and current government policy is to maintain the status quo for years to come. However, this report highlights the fact that benefit payments’ inability to meet the increasing cost of providing housing across the country is a major factor in the rise in homelessness.
Counter-intuitively the Government’s preferred approach has been to allow local authority spending on temporary accommodation to skyrocket rather than address the inability of the system to meet the costs of permanent accommodation.
Likewise the NAO has identified the growing trend in households facing homelessness being moved around the country in search of private-rented homes.
More needs to be done, and it is about time ministers listen to the wealth of evidence suggesting that LHA rates need to closer match the cost of housing around the UK.
To read more about this and the findings of the NAO visit: https://www.nao.org.uk/highlights/homelessness-visualisation/