Councils ‘braced for second wave of homelessness’

A report by the homelessness charity Crisis has said that local authorities are anticipating a second wave of homelessness of people hit by the pandemic’s economic fall out.

Councils fear they may run out of emergency accommodation over the winter months, amid concerns that government funding will not be sufficient to allow them to meet rising demand. This involves families who are becoming homeless for the first time, people on furlough and the newly unemployed, struggling with issues such as rent arrears and relationship breakdowns.

In October, the government announced a £10 million cold weather fund to help councils support rough sleepers over winter, and, more recently, allocated a further £15 million to ten areas in England deemed to need additional support.

The report says that, without sufficient housing supply, local authorities will be left either continuing to accommodate people in often unsuitable temporary accommodation for long periods of time, or in the worst-case scenarios, ending their support whilst individuals remain homeless.

An MHCLG spokeswoman said: “The government has taken unprecedented action to support the most vulnerable people in our society during the pandemic – backed by over £700 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping this year alone. This work is ongoing and by September we had helped move over 19,000 people into settled accommodation.

“We’re working with councils, charities and other partners to protect vulnerable rough sleepers this winter and launched the £15 million Protect Programme to ensure local areas facing the biggest challenges get the help they need to support rough sleepers.”