Urgent need for new affordable homes, LGA says

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called on the government to address the gap between household income and rising rents, by allowing councils to build more affordable homes.

It said the government’s new proposed legislation to tackle homelessness will not be effective, and that a better solution would be to drive funding into enabling councils to construct more homes.

The Homelessness Reduction Bill, which is due to have its second reading in the House of Commons in October, would compel councils to provide emergency interim accommodation for up to 56 days for households not in priority need.

However, the LGA has argued the Bill would ultimately divert resources away from other essential homelessness work leaving councils less able to support vulnerable people.

Lord Porter, LGA Chairman, said: “Simply adding more duties to councils is not the answer to tackling homelessness. The only viable long-term solutions are increasing the availability of suitable affordable housing and addressing other underlying causes of homelessness.

"The government's commitment to more mental health spending is a step in the right direction but it must ensure it reaches the people it is designed to reach. There is no silver bullet – homelessness is a historical problem which has been inherited by successive governments. 

"Housebuilding is well below the levels needed to meet current demand. This is pushing more people into the private rented sector and has caused an increase in rents that can make independent living more difficult. 

"Social housing is critical if we are to house people who are homeless or at risk.  But the availability of social rented council housing has halved since 1994. We've got 69,000 people already currently living in temporary accommodation and more than a million extra on council waiting lists. If we are to succeed then we need to address the gaps between household incomes and spiralling rents, and resume our role as a major builder of affordable homes."