Repairing a broken system

People in housing need (Temporary housing)

Local housing authorities in England have a duty to secure accommodation for unintentionally homeless households in priority need under Part 7 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended). Households might be placed in temporary accommodation  pending the completion of enquiries into an application, or they might spend time waiting in temporary accommodation after an application is accepted until suitable secure accommodation becomes available.

Authorities use a range of types of temporary accommodation, the most controversial of which is bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation.

The June 2018 quarterly statistics mark the twenty-seventh time that the number of households in temporary accommodation is higher than in the same quarter of the previous year. The 79,880 households include 123,130 children, representing a 65% increase since the first quarter of 2010. Of these households, 54,540 (68%) were placed by London Local Authorities. The number of families with dependent children placed in B&B-style accommodation increased from 630 at the end of March 2010 to 2,180 at the end of March 2018.

The National Audit Office (NAO) published a report on Homelessness in September 2017 in which it observed that of the £1.1bn spent by English Local Authorities in 2015- 16 £845 million was spent on temporary accommodation.

A report by the London Assembly May 2019 stated that the number of London households in temporary accommodation has risen by 50 per cent in the past five years, reaching 56,560 households in the final quarter of 2018, including 88,500 children.

 

The capital’s Local Authorities spent over £919 million on homelessness services in 2017/18. £201 million of this expenditure was not covered by central government grants or councils’ housing income (such as rental payments), meaning boroughs resorted to covering the costs from their general funds (which could be used for other council services).

HOUSING FOR MILITARY VETERANS

The Office of Veteran Affairs (OVA) was set up in 2019 with the specific aim of supporting military veterans in finance, medical needs including mental health support, housing and transition from service and resettlement. Historically, there have been no records on what happens when they leave Service. The only data available is that of veterans who are claiming an Armed Forces Pension or Armed Forces Compensation.

The Government is looking to change this and have started by ensuring that when anyone presents themselves to a GP or the NHS they are specifically asked if they are a veteran. This is to be expanded to all new engagement with Local Authorities when someone presents themselves for support. Local Authorities who are signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant will treat veterans the same, if not better, than non-veterans. This will become law by the end of 2020.

Current statistics show that there are some 14,500 service leavers each year, forming part of the 2.4M veterans in the community, with key ‘hot spots’ focussed around areas of military concentration such as Rushmoor, Colchester, Plymouth, Portsmouth and Catterick. Other hotspots include Metro regions such as Manchester and Liverpool.

A number of military housing charities, such as Stoll and Haig Housing, are inundated with requests for support, with demand outstripping supply. Furthermore, the transition from the military is often fragmented and disjointed, even though a Career Transition Pathway is place. The service leaver is often under-prepared for the resettlement process.

 

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Summary

Recent programmes on Sky News and BBC’s Panorama highlighting Local Authorities who are housing families in temporary accommodation for way beyond the statutory six weeks, is causing a national outcry. Scenes showing a family of six living in one room for over six months in buildings which are not fit for purpose, is now prompting Council Leaders and their officers to seek an answer.

Orion have researched in detail the excessive temporary housing costs and the lack of support to our Military Veterans. It is obvious that the current model is broken, not fit for purpose and unsustainable in today’s ever changing and politically diverse society.

A new “out of the box” approach is needed with all stakeholders collaboratively working to deliver a modern system, that is sustainable for society and the environment, using technology and modern methods to rapidly create communities for our country’s most vulnerable families and our servicemen and women who have given so much to Great Britain.