“It’s not enough” – industry wants homelessness initiative beefed up

Trade bodies have welcomed a government initiative to get more homeless people, as well as those at risk of becoming homeless, into private rented housing – but there are concerns the measures are not strong enough.

The government this week announced that local councils would be permitted to contact lettings agents to find accommodation for those currently homeless or those at risk of homelessness, and would even be entitled pay a tenant’s deposit or rent.

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire says this £20m scheme would support up to 9,000 people; however, individual local councils would have to bid for the funding.

Now the Residential Landlords Association has strongly welcomed the move saying: “With over one million households waiting for a social rented home, increasing numbers of councils are now turning to the private rented sector to provide homes for the homeless.

“Such funding however needs to be matched by an ambitious programme to see more homes of every tenure developed. This includes homes for private rent.”

The National Landlords Association has also supported the measure, although with more scepticism as to its effectiveness.

NLA chief executive Richard Lambert says: “While we welcome any assistance the government can provide those in need of a home, this hardly addresses the cause of the housing crisis. More social housing needs to be built for those who are unable to access or maintain a tenancy in the private rented sector.

“The [sector] is already picking up the slack by providing homes to people who would be better suited to social housing. Landlords are struggling to cover their overheads as housing benefit rates remain frozen well below the cost of renting.

“We also have concerns regarding the bidding war that councils must undertake to access the funding. It would make more sense for the government to use their own statistics to allocate funding to where it’s needed most.

“This is just another example of the government making a quick fix to appear as if they’re doing something. There are over 13,000 statutorily homeless households and nearly 80,000 household in temporary accommodation. Supporting 9,000 people doesn’t go far enough.”

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