National Audit Office
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This report examines whether the Government is achieving value for money in its administration of homelessness policy, setting out the causes and costs of homelessness, the response of local government to homelessness and the Department for Communities and Local Government’s leadership in reducing homelessness. Homelessness in England in each of its various forms has increased in recent years. The number of rough sleepers stood at more than 4,000 in the autumn of 2016, having increased from fewer than 1,800 in the autumn of 2010. The number of homeless households in temporary accommodation has also increased, rising from fewer than 49,000 in March 2011 to around 77,000 in March 2017. The report finds that the ending of private sector tenancies has overtaken all other causes to become the biggest single driver of statutory homelessness in England. The affordability of tenancies is also likely to have contributed to the increase in homelessness while changes to Local Housing Allowance are likely to have contributed to the affordability of tenancies for those on benefits. In response to increasing homelessness pressures, demand for local authorities’ prevention activities has also increased in recent years. The number of prevention cases increased from just under 141,000 in 2009-10 to just under 200,000 in 2016-17. The report finds that notwithstanding the significant increase in homelessness in recent years, which at present costs the public sector in excess of £1 billion a year, the Government has not evaluated the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness, or the impact of the mitigations that it has put in place; it has taken a light touch approach to working with local authorities; and it is only now beginning to put in place the measures that will allow it to maximise the effectiveness of the resources it directs at homelessness. It concludes that its recent performance in reducing homelessness therefore cannot be considered value for money. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
housing, social housing, homelessness, rough sleepers, homeless people, local authorities, housing benefit, government policy;
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Series name:
HC 308

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