The government has increased the ring-fenced homelessness prevention fund available to local authorities – the Homelessness Prevention Grant – by £65m until the end of this financial year (2021-22).
This dedicated fund can be used by local authorities to help households work with landlords to prevent evictions or offer financial support for people to find a new home, therefore preventing homelessness. Where someone is struggling to make ongoing payments because of the benefit cap, for example, financial assistance from the local authority could be used to prevent them getting into very serious arrears. This would be provided alongside a plan for them to get into work or increase their income through increased hours.
Although the government is encouraging local authorities to use this money to support renters in the private rented sector who are more likely to be at risk of homelessness; the Homelessness Prevention Grant funding can also be used to prevent homelessness from the social rented sector. As well as through their own tenancy sustainment services, housing associations can help prevent homelessness among their tenants by referring them to the local authority homelessness prevention team if they are in need of extra support to help them stay in their tenancy.
Housing associations have worked hard to keep their residents safe at home during the pandemic. This additional funding from government acknowledges that this is a difficult time for low-income renters in particular and we welcome the enhancement of a dedicated, ring-fenced fund for homelessness prevention that can target support to those who need it.