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The Homelessness Monitor: England 2019

15.05.2019 1094 XX

The Homelessness Monitor: England 2019 is the eighth annual report of an independent study, commissioned by Crisis and funded by Crisis, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and with support from players of People's Postcode Lottery, of the homelessness impacts of recent economic and policy developments in England. 

Key findings 

  • This year’s Monitor comes at a time when there has been some of the most significant policy developments in recent time, with the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act in April 2018, and the Rough Sleeping Strategy in Summer 2018. The findings reflect a modest – but palpable – sense of relief, amongst both local authorities and key informants at these policy developments.  
  • 71 per cent of local authorities participating in this year’s LA survey reported that homelessness had been recently increasing – in a quarter of cases to a “significant” extent. Nationally, 2017/18 saw a small drop in the recorded statutory homelessness caseload, although it still remains 42 per cent above their 2009 low point 
  • The extraordinary rise since 2010 in the number of households made homeless by the ending of private tenancies seems finally to have peaked. Homelessness temporary accommodation placements, however, have continued to rise, and now stand 71 per cent higher than in 2011, with a disproportionate rise in Bed & Breakfast use also ongoing. 
  • After rapid growth since 2010 rough sleeping appears to have levelled of somewhat in England with official estimates recording a 2 per cent decrease nationally. However, there are still rising trends in three of England’s four broad regions, including core cities such as London, Birmingham and Manchester, and amongst Central and Eastern European migrants.  
  • Very few local authority respondents believed that existing social housing provision in their area is commensurate with homelessness needs, but many were at least equally concerned about the problematic profile of the local social housing stock portfolio, mismatched to need. There were also widespread anxieties about ongoing changes to housing association tenancy allocation policies impeding local authorities’ ability to resolve homelessness.  
  • Private rents seem to be falling in real terms across the country as a whole, but rising in London. Affordability in the sector as a whole also seems to be improving, and repossessions falling. However the growth in the private rented sector (only marginally reversed in the last year) has exposed many more low-income households to higher housing costs, a smaller proportion of which are protected through housing allowances in the benefit system.  
  • The safety net once provided by Housing Benefit, whereby post housing incomes were protected from erosion below basic benefit levels, has now effectively ended for the bulk of private tenants in receipt of benefit across the country, with young people under 35 particularly badly affected by reduced Local Housing Allowance rates and the working age benefit freeze.  
  • There is considerable concern amongst local authority respondents of the ongoing expected impact of welfare reform on homelessness in their area. The full roll out of UC is the subject of greatest concern with nearly two thirds of LAs anticipating a “significant” homelessness increase as a result. Aside from anxieties on UC, most LAs anticipated that homelessness would “significantly” increase due to then freeze in LHA rates (53%) and other working age benefits (51%), with almost as many LAs (47%) reporting likewise for the lowered benefit cap. 
  • This year’s Homelessness Monitor does however provide encouraging evidence that the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) is enabling councils to help more people in housing need. Most local authorities reported that the HRA has enabled a more person-centred approach to managing homelessness in their area and two-thirds of authorities saw the Act as having positive impacts for single people. While this is a positive step forward, there remain pressing structural issues that if unresolved risk reversing the positive steps achieved by the HRA so far. 
     

    Reference 

    Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wood, J., Watts, B., Stephens, M. & Blenkinsopp, J. (2019) The Homelessness Monitor: England 2019. London: Crisis.