I wholeheartedly agree about the importance of providing safe temporary accommodation to those sleeping rough.
Local authorities have a duty to provide interim accommodation to anyone who they believe may be homeless, eligible for assistance or in priority need. Any accommodation provided must be suitable. Guidance provided by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is clear that this means it must be suitable for all members of a household and all aspects of the accommodation should be assessed in line with the relevant needs of that household.
I must stress that bed and breakfast accommodation is not considered suitable for families with children, except where there is no other accommodation available and then only for a maximum of six weeks.
The Homelessness Reduction Act places duties on local housing authorities to take reasonable steps to try to prevent and relieve a person’s homelessness. Local authorities are being given more control and flexibility in supporting those who are at risk through the Homelessness Prevention Grant. Local authorities can use the funding flexibly to help prevent evictions, provide temporary accommodation to those who need it and to offer financial support for people to find a new home. £316 million is available for the grant in 2022-23, with an additional £50 million top up announced in early December 2022 to support local authorities in preventing vulnerable households from becoming homeless over the winter. A further £654 million is being invested in the Homelessness Prevention Grant in 2023-24 and 2024-25.
I believe it is important that there is tailored support available to help people in temporary accommodation move forward, and I firmly support the Government’s focus on helping people to find longer-term accommodation. The latest annual rough sleeping snapshot shows that the number of people in emergency accommodation has nearly halved, with more people securing long-term homes.
More widely, I know that the Government is working to reduce the need for temporary accommodation by preventing homelessness before it occurs. Over £2 billion is being committed over the next three years to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in England.
Let me assure you that I share the desire of my ministerial colleagues to tackle all forms of homelessness once and for all.
While I am unfortunately unable to attend the upcoming Shelter event due to a prior commitment, I would like to assure you that I will continue to follow any developments very closely.