The rising number of Londoners housed in temporary accommodation by its local authorities is now larger than that of several British cities, and almost half of those affected are children according to figures collected by cross-party body London Councils.
A survey of the capital’s homelessness data covering the final two months of last year indicates that around 166,000 of the capital’s people now live in temporary accommodation arranged by their borough – more than the entire populations of Oxford (162,000), Norwich (144,000), Dundee (148,000), Preston (148,000) or Exeter (131,000).
Of these, approximately 81,000 are children, an average of one in every 23 London children equating to one homeless child in every London school classroom.
London Councils, which represents all 33 of the capital’s local authorities, gathered figures from 28 of them and supplemented these with estimated year-on-year increases for the other five.
The release of the figures has been accompanied by research for London Councils commissioned from property agent Savills showing that only 4.2 per cent of private rented sector London properties listed by Rightmove during 2022 fell within the price range of local housing allowance (LHA) claimants in the capital.
LHA, which is supposed to cover the cheapest 30 per cent of private rental homes in local areas, has been frozen by the Conservative national government since an increase in 2020 and is to remain so until at least April 2024 despite soaring rents and inflation.
Darren Rodwell, London Councils’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing and Planning, said the research confirms that “London’s homelessness crisis is getting even worse,” with what he calls “a toxic combination of cost of living pressures and the chronic shortage of affordable housing” leading to “more and more Londoners, especially families with kids, ending up homeless”.
London Councils is calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to address the issue in today’s budget by increasing LHA to cover “at least 30 per cent of local market rates” and also discretionary housing payments by boroughs, currently frozen at 2022/23 levels, which can be used to help households meet immediate housing costs.
The body is also asking for an end to what it calls “unfair restrictions” on the use of the takings from council homes sold under the Right To Buy. Currently, much of the money from the sales goes to national government, preventing boroughs spending it on building replacements for homes lost in their own areas.
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