Homeless man on the street

Universal credit fuelling homelessness, say cash-strapped councils

86% of councils have said they are unlikely to meet their statutory duty to prevent homelessness.
18 April 2019 , Katie Coyne

Some 86% of councils have said they are unlikely to meet their statutory duty to prevent homelessness, according to a survey by the New Local Government Network (NLGN). 

The quarterly survey found that just 67% of councils thought they had sufficient funding to fulfil this duty required under the Homelessness Reduction Act that came into force last April.

An extra £72.7 million was put towards funding but the survey has found that council leaders feel it is not enough and there are concerns that this funding stops after three years.

The NLGN Leadership Index, first published in March 2018, is a survey of council leaders, chief executives and mayors of local authorities across the UK and their opinions on delivery of services.

NLGN director Adam Lent said: "The government's aspiration to shift towards prevention is admirable but this survey shows that without sustained, long-term funding of local government it will make that goal much harder and probably impossible to achieve.

"There is an urgent need for government to review current funding for homelessness, particularly in the long-term, and ensure its policy aims marry with the resources available to local authorities across the UK".

The index also found that 78% of local leaders believed that universal credit has prompted a rise in homelessness. Just 2% felt it had led to a decrease.

Lent added: “"On the one hand the government is pressing councils hard to reduce homelessness and on the other it is pursuing a welfare policy that is increasing homelessness.

“This is patently irrational and self-defeating. The government must conduct an urgent review of how universal credit is increasing homelessness and make the necessary changes to its welfare policy to remedy the situation".

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