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What Is The Government Doing About Homelessness In The UK?

Jun 8, 2022
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This blog will look at the initiatives the UK government has launched to try and tackle the homelessness crisis and how effectively these methods and strategies have been working on a national level. 

Homelessness Reduction Act

The Homelessness Reduction Act is a new law that came into effect in England on 3 April 2018. The Act places responsibilities on local authorities to make sure that all eligible households are assessed for their need for accommodation and support.

It also provides for an independent review of the situation within each council’s area after three years, with a view to identifying ways of improving outcomes further.

The Act requires local authorities in England to carry out assessments of people who may be homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days (reduced from 104).

If an assessment identifies someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming so, the authority has 28 days to help them find safe and secure accommodation to live (or prevented from being made homeless). Unless there are exceptional circumstances that mean this would not be possible within this timeframe.

In the first two months since its introduction (April – June 2018), almost 90% of all applications made under the new legislation were accepted – about 2% more than under previous guidance issued when homelessness prevention was last reviewed by the government back in 2012/13.

This shows how quickly people can get help through this new law because they now have a legal right as soon as they report themselves as vulnerable due to losing their home.

Many councils have not previously been able to offer this kind of protection without going through lengthy processes which could take months or even years depending on individual circumstances.

Government funding for local councils to tackle homelessness

One of the government's main ways of tackling homelessness is to provide funding for local councils. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) provides this money to help local councils tackle homelessness and end rough sleeping in England, as well as preventing homelessness for those people who are at risk.

Rough Sleeping Strategy

The government has made it a key priority to reduce rough sleeping. The Rough Sleeping Strategy is based on the recommendations of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017, which includes:

Targets to reduce rough sleeping by 2022. The strategy sets out how government action will help those who are at risk of becoming homeless or have recently become homeless people to get accommodation and support as quickly as possible, with a focus on prevention and early intervention.

This includes a range of measures to reduce the need for emergency accommodation, including working with local authorities where appropriate. The strategy also outlines how we can improve access to mental health services for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, which will help them deal with any mental health problems they may be facing that could make it difficult for them to live independently.

Task Force focused on rough sleeping and homelessness

The task force is a group of experts from the government, charities and local authorities who are focused on helping people who are sleeping rough or homeless.

The task force has published a report which sets out how the government will work with local councils to significantly aid rough sleepers and hopefully end homelessness.

The government is continuously campaigning to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping. The main way they're doing this is by working with local authorities, charities and other organisations to reduce the need for emergency accommodation, hostels and temporary accommodation.

Local authorities will be given more money so they can build more social housing and adapt existing properties for residential use.

In the long run, the government hopes that no one will have to seek temporary accommodation at all because everyone will have enough money from work or benefits (jobseeker's allowance) to afford their own home. But if you fall behind on rent payments or get evicted from your home because you didn't pay it back on time then you might find yourself homeless anyway!

If this happens then hopefully someone will help you find somewhere else safe where there aren't any bugs crawling around in the walls or mice running around eating food scraps left lying around everywhere!

A range of measures to reduce the need for emergency accommodation.

The government is taking a range of measures to reduce the need for emergency accommodation.

  • Provide more affordable housing, including through the Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.
  • Provide more support for people to stay in their homes, including through local authority funding and grants provided by councils.
  • Provide more support for people to find and keep a home, such as through advice on debt or legal issues, or through help with filling out forms at local housing offices.

Many things are going on, but more is needed.

You've probably heard of the government's rough sleeping initiative, which was announced in 2017 and was supposed to help end homelessness by 2027.

The plan was for the government to provide £100 million per annum for a period of three years. This included funding for local authorities and charities to support people who were homeless or at risk of becoming so.

However, it wasn't enough money—and it wasn't enough time—to solve the problem on its own. In fact, some people believe that this initiative might actually make things worse in some areas because there is not enough funding available locally. According to Shelter:

Right now there are only 880 homes available across England to provide rough sleepers shelter for those who want one.

What is Greater Change doing?

Greater Change has an alternative way of approaching the homelessness issue in the UK. Founded in 2018, Greater Change supports people who, with some funding, can make a long-term positive change. We support everyone who is homeless, or at immediate risk of becoming homeless. 

The charities that we partner with refer people to us who would benefit from our help. We then encourage support workers to build up a relationship with individuals who are homeless, ask them what they want, and need, to return to a home, and create a clear action plan and a savings target to achieve this.

Savings targets are typically for housing deposits, ID, and training courses. However, we do not stipulate what the funding can be used for but take a common-sense approach to fund things which the people we are helping and their support workers demonstrate will help them back into homes and to thrive there: people who are homeless have control over the process.

Offering this budget shows trust, encourages engagement, and differs from typical offers of generic help. We then fundraise for their savings target. Once the target is reached, the support worker’s charity purchases the saving goal directly, to ensure accountability and transparency. We have now helped over 450 clients out of homelessness and into long term stability. 

Conclusion

There is still a long way to go in addressing homelessness. It’s an issue that affects everyone and not just those who are living on the streets.

By working together, we can make a real difference and help even more people out of homelessness and into long term stability. Please take a look at our current campaigns here. 

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