Designing solutions to London's temporary accommodation system
This briefing provides an overview of the recent trends, policy history and specific dynamics of the numbers of families in temporary accommodation in London, in order to start thinking about solutions. It is based on desk research and semi-structured interviews with policy experts and practitioners. It's tentative conclusion is that the temporary accommodation problem is a symptom of the broad crisis of housing affordability and insecurity in London but it is not an inevitable one, significant improvement is possible on this more acute problem based on examples of creative and strategic action by London Boroughs which could be scaled.
The number of households in temporary accommodation in London is up 50 percent over the last five years and stood at 51,940 in March 2016. London has historically accounted for three quarters of those in temporary accommodation in the UK. Recently this problem has been compounded by factors including: cuts to benefit entitlements; a rise in rents far above national averages; intense competition for tenancies in the Private Rented Sector; and the withdrawal of housing associations from temporary accommodation provision. Families are being failed on both prevention and recovery from homelessness. The growing cost, poor conditions and negative health, employment and educational outcomes of temporary accommodation also represent a failure in the 'emergency treatment' phase.
Households with dependent children are a priority need group and make up the vast majority of those in temporary accommodation. Solutions must take account of their needs but it should be recognised that a much larger and more varied hidden homelessness problem exists with larger numbers in unsupported temporary accommodation.
The briefing looks at the features of current temporary accommodation system in London and outlines the growing demand, cost of provision and recent developments. Some recent examples of responses are considered as a starting point for thinking about their strengths, potential limitations and how they might be built upon.
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From our Twitter
This week is London Challenge Poverty week, a chance for people to speak out about poverty across the capital. We will be tweeting about the reality of poverty in London throughout the week, and what we we must do as a society to solve it. #LDNChallengePoverty @4in1015 Oct 2018
58% of Londoners in poverty are from a working family. The changing face of poverty must be met by a new approach from government. We need housing costs to be controlled, and more employers to pay the real living wage. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/poverty-moved-dole-queue-workplace-13441046 …19 Oct 2018
"It's incredibly disempowering to not understand how your benefits work, or how much money you are entitled to from each payment." Good discussion from the floor at our event about #UniversalCredit with @LCPAlliance @policy_practice @MindCharity @CPAGUK #LDNChallengePoverty19 Oct 2018
#UniversalCredit can be very difficult to manage for people with mental health problems. @MindCharity are pushing for people's other benefits not to be taken away until they receive their first payment under Universal Credit. #LDNChallengePoverty19 Oct 2018
People affected by the benefit cap are more likely to move into work than before the cap began. But for every 1 child in a family which gains work, there are 5 who get less welfare because of the cap. Devan & @policy_practice say this is a poor trade-off. #LDNChallengePoverty pic.twitter.com/cyxwITuZzW19 Oct 2018