In response to the National Audit Office’s new report into homelessness, Threshold Chief Executive, Graeme Willis said “It tells us what we already knew, homelessness has been getting worse since 2010 and government policies are the cause”.
The damning report shows that while some parts of government are actively creating the problem, other parts are left to try to deal with it, this is in part down to government decisions on Local Housing Allowance, making housing unaffordable for those in greatest need, while councils struggle to rehouse people.
Funding is being taken from homelessness prevention and supported accommodation with budgets suffering cuts of up to 59% whilst money is transferred to pay private landlords to provide temporary accommodation to those that councils have a legal duty to house. This has caused a reduction of nearly 8000 hostel beds since 2010 leading to a more than doubling of those sleeping rough.
In Swindon alone Threshold’s outreach team worked with 147 different people sleeping on the streets at some point over the last year.
The report shows that Homelessness in all its forms has significantly increased in recent years, despite this, the government has not evaluated the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, or the impact of the mitigations that it has put in place.
The local government department (DCLG) which has the responsibility for tackling homelessness, took a “light touch approach” to working with local authorities. Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office found it” difficult to understand why the Department persisted with this approach in the face of such a visibly growing problem” and went on to say that “The Department’s recent performance in reducing homelessness therefore cannot be considered value for money”.
“Whilst it is Threshold’s goal to make homelessness a thing of the past, we need everyone else to share that ideal”, said Graeme “and that takes a strategic approach across government, councils and the charity sector.
If we can work together with partners in Swindon just think what we could achieve if government departments and local authorities had a clear vision and a joined up approach”