The guidance, which is subject to an eight-week consultation (ending on 11 December), sets out how local councils should implement the Homelessness Reduction Act, due to come into effect in April 2018. The new Act requires councils to provide services to all at risk of becoming homeless, on top of those with a priority need such as families with children and those who are vulnerable.
Following further discussions with local authorities in England on the resources required to implement the Act, the government is providing an additional £11.7m in new burdens funding to local authorities, taking the total amount to £72.7m. This additional funding will be shared among local authorities over two years to meet the requirements of the Act.
The government will also be providing a share of £3m to local authorities to support them in upgrading their data systems to allow them to assess how the Act is changing homeless prevention in their areas. This comes on top of the government’s investment of £550m until 2020 for homelessness and rough sleeping.
Minister for homelessness Marcus Jones said: “Tackling homelessness and rough sleeping are complex issues with no single solution, but this government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society. That’s why we’re implementing the most ambitious legislative reform in decades, the Homelessness Reduction Act.”
Cuts in funding
This consultation follows a warning from London Councils, the umbrella body for the capital’s 32 boroughs, which stated they face a £1.5bn black hole in the public finances before the end of the decade. They warned they faced a 63% budget cut by 2020, while the city’s population is due to hit 9.1m over that period, stating this will result in “critical” pressures for services like housing and social services.
In addition, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 414 councils across England and Wales recently published its Autumn Budget submission to the chancellor, which outlined how councils across England face a £5.8bn funding gap by 2019/20.
In that document the LGA stated: “English councils will have had to deal with £16bn of reductions to government grant funding by the end of this decade.”