Homelessness and Local Housing Allowance

I firmly believe that nobody should be without a roof over their head. That is why I welcome the Government’s commitment to end rough sleeping for good, with the aim of halving it by 2022.

In relation to your concerns about Local Housing Allowance, around £24 billion a year is spent on Housing Benefit to support people with housing costs, with over £1 billion in Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) having been provided to local authorities to help vulnerable claimants. In the recent Spending Round, the Chancellor announced a further £40 million of funding for DHPs, sending the annual budget up to £180 million from the £140 million spent last year. Local Housing Allowance rates will be increased in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from April 2020. This will end the benefit freeze. It will give the majority of people in receipt of housing support in the Private Rented Sector an increase which will benefit them by about £10 per month.

I am assured that around 30 per cent of potential savings from the LHA freeze were used to create further Targeted Affordability Funding, to help tenants in those areas where local housing allowance rates differ the most from local rents. This has been used to increase 361 LHA rates by 3 per cent in areas with high rental costs in 2019-20. This year £210 million has been invested in Targeted Affordability Funding. It is estimated that over 500,000 households will benefit from these increases in LHA rates, seeing a real increase of around £250 a year.

I also welcome the cross-government Rough Sleeping Strategy was published and set out a £100 million package to help people who sleep rough now, but also puts in place the structures that will end rough sleeping once and for all. In the recent Spending Round, the Chancellor committed £422 million in funding to help reduce homelessness and rough sleeping. I am pleased that £263 million was announced in December for 2020-21 to help local authorities tackle homelessness in our communities, coupled with an extra £112 million for the Rough Sleeping Initiative.

The Government launched the Rapid Rehousing Pathway to help rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping. The Pathway includes Somewhere Safe to Stay Hubs, where people can shelter while their housing and support needs are assessed. The Pathway provides support to local lettings agencies to help rough sleepers into affordable settled accommodation. Funding under this scheme totalling £450,000 was made available to Bedford Borough Council and enabled the Borough Council to provide extended services for people sleeping rough with the opening of an ‘Assessment & Somewhere Safe to Stay’ Hub, in Bedford town centre and in Central Bedfordshire a number of measures were announced in January 2020 which will support local homeless people and support them to find housing - https://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/news/article/220/thumbs_up_to_homelessness_and_rough_sleeping_strategy