Today at the 999 Club we’ve been reading through the National Audit Office report on homelessness. There are a lot of shocking headlines in their report. The growth of homelessness, the reasons why it happens and the subsequent effects on local government and healthcare services; these reflect our every day work with homeless people in the Gateway and Night Shelter. But underneath the headlines there are also some worrying conclusions. The NAO report’s summary states:
“The government has not fully assessed the impact of its welfare reforms on homelessness.”
“The ability of local authorities to respond to increased homelessness is constrained by the limited options they have to house homeless families.”
Together, these two statements from the National Audit Office go a long way to explain why there has been such a dramatic rise in homeless over the past few years. The NAO conclude that the government didn’t anticipate the consequences of benefit reform, and local authorities couldn’t then pick up the pieces.
Thankfully both of these can be rectified. The NAO recommends that the government needs better data to understand homelessness, and that councils need powers and funding to build or purchase more homes.
Whilst the NAO cite the ending of a private sector tenancy as the most common reason for becoming homeless in London, there are still people who need assistance to find a place to live, a job and a sense of self esteem. Homelessness charities like the 999 Club offer essential services for people who sleep rough, and we also provide intensive support for the most vulnerable people in our society. Effective policy from central and local government can go a long way in helping us to help people off the streets.
You can read the summary, and the full report, here: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/homelessness/