Government publishes review into landmark homelessness legislation – Crisis response

Today, 25th September, the Government has published its first review into the Homelessness Reduction Act since it was introduced two years ago. The key findings from the report include:

  • The HRA has been successful in opening up access to more and more people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • The shift in focus to prevention is helping more people get support earlier and preventing them from becoming homelessness in the first place. However, this review highlights that this is not consistent across the country. 
  • The relief duty was the element of the Act where reported effectiveness varied most between different local areas. The ability of local authorities to relieve homelessness was reported to be inconsistent depending on structural challenges such as the local supply of affordable housing.
  • Since the Act was introduced, discharge of duties into the PRS has enabled 71,170 households, including single people without priority need, to move into settled accommodation. 
  • However, temporary accommodation (TA) use has increased since the introduction of the HRA. With an increased number of people accessing TA there are more households living in TA and for longer periods of time, at increasing costs to LAs. 
  • The cost of delivering the HRA has continued to be high and not reduced in the way that was calculated through the New Burdens Fund, and funding has not been sufficient to cover implementation. Whilst additional funding has been allocated including the Homelessness Reduction Grant in December 2019, the government has committed to undertaking a review of the new burdens funding with the results published in Autumn.

Responding to the review Jon Sparkes, Crisis Chief Executive, said: “The Homelessness Reduction Act was a landmark piece of legislation and as this review shows it has been integral to ensuring that thousands more people ​across the country can access​ vital help and support with housing, right when they need it most. ​

“Despite this, we know from our own research that too many people continue to fall through the gaps and are not receiving the help they need to secure a safe and stable home. What is clear from this review is that councils have been under increasing financial pressure to deliver on the Act, which has only been exacerbated further by the current pandemic. ​

“The HRA can be at the heart of ending homelessness for good but only if councils are properly resourced. While the commitment ​from the Government to review funding for the Act later this year is welcome, we urgently need to see councils given the money they need to keep everyone safe over the coming winter months. It’s crucial that the Government also tackles the root causes pushing people into homelessness in the first place, by building more social homes across the country and making sure that housing benefit continues to cover the cost of people’s rent. Failure to do so, could see thousands left out in the cold and exposed to the virus.”