Hampshire's council leaders call for action to tackle homelessness crisis

Hampshire council leaders have co-signed a letter with more than 100 signatures calling for the government to address the homelessness crisis.
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Some 119 council leaders across England have co-signed the letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, to alert him of the “unprecedented” pressure on temporary accommodation services. The letter calls for a meeting with the chancellor ahead of the Autumn Statement on November 22 alongside six key actions.

These include raising local housing allowance rates, £300m of discretionary housing payments between now and 2024/25 and a £150m top-up to the homelessness prevention grant.

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The letter reads: “An unprecedented number of people are turning to councils as the last option for support when they face homelessness.

There has been a dramatic upsurge in demand for homelessness services recently.There has been a dramatic upsurge in demand for homelessness services recently.
There has been a dramatic upsurge in demand for homelessness services recently.

“As councils, we are proud of the help we give to people when they need it, but our situation is becoming untenable.

“We have had no option but to rapidly escalate our use of temporary accommodation, which is threatening to overwhelm our budgets.

“The ensuing increase in costs is a critical risk to the financial sustainability of many local authorities and we urge you to act swiftly to ensure we can continue our vital work.

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“The pressure is particularly acute for district councils because housing costs constitute a far bigger proportion of our overall expenditure.

“Without urgent intervention, the existence of our safety net is under threat. The danger is that we have no option but to start withdrawing services which currently help so many families to avoid hitting crisis point.”

The cost of temporary accommodation to councils reached £1.7bn last year according to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The letter follows an emergency summit on October 31 organised by the District Council Network (DCN) and Eastbourne Borough Council – 158 councils attended.

Eight council leaders from Hampshire were among the signatories, including councillor Steve Pitt, leader of Portsmouth City Council.

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Other signatories include Cllr Paul Harvey, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council leader, Cllr Richard Miller of East Hampshire District Council, Cllr Keith House of Eastleigh Borough Council, Cllr Sean Woodward of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr David Neighbour of Hart District Council and Cllr Jill Cleary of New Forest District Council.

A government spokesperson said it is committed to reducing the need for temporary accommodation by preventing homelessness before it occurs in the first place, including by giving funding to councils.

It is also trying to make the private rented sector fairer for tenants and landlords, including ending ‘no fault’ evictions.