The National Housing Federation has written a joint letter to the homelessness minister, Felicity Buchan, about the amount of homelessness accommodation spaces currently at risk of closure due to a crisis in local government funding.
Our letter calls on the Government to boost and ringfence funding for supported housing, to protect homeless services commissioned by local authorities.
Several councils are considering proposals to withdraw funding from our members, who deliver supported accommodation for people facing homelessness, due to financial pressures facing local authorities. A Local Government Association (LGA) survey in December found that one in five council leaders think it is likely they will have to issue a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy, either this year or next. Birmingham and Nottingham council have already issued Section 114 notices, placing their non-statutory supported accommodation contracts at risk.
Now, county councils are not required to fund homelessness support services, but more than half in England do through their commitment to reduce health inequalities.
If these proposals are not prevented through increased and ringfenced government funding, over 250 homes for people who are homeless may be lost across the country. This would put residents, and those facing homelessness at risk of rough sleeping and increase the burden on social care and NHS services.
The evidence shows that increasing and ringfencing this funding will also save money. Research by Imogen Blood & Associates, commissioned by the National Housing Federation, found that the average cost per person of supported accommodation was £21,000 per person per year, whereas allowing a person to remain homeless for a long period of time cost £43,000 per person per year.
In addition to the National Housing Federation, Homeless Link, and the Local Government Association, the letter was also co-signed by the Chartered Institute of Housing, Centrepoint, Rethink Mental Illness, Crisis, Shelter, the National Care Forum, and the Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition.
To reduce homelessness and end child homelessness by 2035, the Government must commit to a long-term plan to fix the housing crisis, which should include a commitment to long term, ring fenced and increased funding for supported housing and support services.