London boroughs have warned of an imminent summer wave of homelessness in the capital as the end of the evictions ban looms.
Homelessness previously peaked in 2005 when there were 63,800 households in temporary accommodation, but with 60,680 London households already in temporary accommodation, boroughs fear new records could be set this year unless the government increases investment in homelessness prevention.
London Councils points to a triple whammy of upcoming risks: high unemployment and rent arrears, the lifting of the eviction ban on 31st May, and uncertainty over homelessness funding.
Even before the pandemic, it had highlighted the unsustainable growth of homelessness costs in the capital, spending £1.1 billion on homelessness services in 2019/20.
It estimates there are 165,000 homeless Londoners living in borough-provided temporary accommodation, accounting for two-thirds of England’s total.
Almost 70% of London households in temporary accommodation have at least one child, with the most recent figures putting the figure at 90,000 children.
Councillor Darren Rodwell (pictured), London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, says: “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.”
London Councils is calling on the government to confirm both short-term and long-term funding arrangements, to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit payments to begin and to make sure Local Housing Allowance continues to match the cost of renting in London.
It also wants it to restore government funding for councils’ local welfare assistance schemes supporting residents in financial crisis and – with 243,000 London households on boroughs’ housing waiting lists – to improve councils’ resources for building social housing.