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Homelessness: Greater London

Communities and Local Government written question – answered on 19th December 2013.

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Photo of Karen Buck Karen Buck Labour, Westminster North

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

(1) what the actual and percentage change in the number of homeless households placed (a) out of borough and (b) out of London by each London local authority under prevention and relief of homelessness powers was in each of the last three years;

(2) how many households have been placed in other boroughs by each London local authority under homelessness duties in 2013-14 to date;

(3) what the actual and percentage change in the number of households placed in borough by each London local authority under all homelessness duties was in the last three years;

(4) how many households were placed as homeless in temporary accommodation (a) out of borough and (b) out of London in each London local authority area in 2012-13;

(5) what the actual and percentage change in the number of homeless households placed in temporary accommodation was (a) out of borough and (b) out of London in each London local authority area in each of the last three years;

(6) how many households were placed (a) out of borough and (b) out of London under prevention and relief of homelessness powers by each London local authority in 2012-13.

Photo of Kris Hopkins Kris Hopkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

holding answer 25 October 2013

Temporary accommodation

The Department does not collect information on the local authority area or location of households placed in temporary accommodation in another local authority district under homelessness legislation.

However, I have placed in the Library of the House, figures for the number of households placed in temporary accommodation by London boroughs in another local authority district. To assist the hon. Member and facilitate public scrutiny, I have included yearly figures from 1997 to 2013.

The hon. Member may wish to create arbitrary percentage changes, yet there is no clear pattern by London borough and the figures fluctuate from year to year; the datasets are also incomplete. Within the confines of the information available, I would observe that the number of people being placed in other districts was higher in many years in both London and England under the last administration, based on grossed estimates when taking account of non-responding local authorities.

No council should be sending tenants en masse to a different part of the country. The law is clear that such a blanket policy would be unlawful. Councils must take into account the impact a change in location would have on each individual household they place, including possible disruption to things like employment and schooling.

But clearly everyone needs to live within their means, and homeless households that are solely reliant on taxpayer-funded benefits should not expect to live in properties that working families feel they cannot afford, especially in the more expensive parts of central London.

Indeed, I would note that the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham has recently published an analysis rebutting suggestions of large increases in out-of-borough replacements due to the benefit cap. They observed:

“Out of 546 households in temporary accommodation affected by the caps, just 10 have had to relocate into areas outside Hammersmith and Fulham. In 344 cases, or well over half of the cases in Hammersmith and Fulham, the council successfully negotiate a lower price, within the new subsidy, with private landlords. Another 180 people have been successfully rehoused in properties that are affordable under the Government's tougher new rules—with 152 cases remaining in Hammersmith and Fulham and just 18 cases resettled in neighbouring boroughs. Another concern was that the changes to benefits might have altered the number of private landlords offering their property to people on benefits, although this has not happened.” (Council press release, 15 November 2013).

Permanent social lettings

In the last two years (2011-13), there were 773,000 permanent social lettings made in England. A mere 483 (0.06%) involved general needs social lettings relocating a London-based tenant to an outside-London location. A table breaking down these 483 locations by month has also been placed in the Library of the House.

Such figures would include relocations under the Greater London Authority's mobility scheme, Seaside and Country Homes; this scheme offers people who are aged 60 and over and live in social housing in London the opportunity to move voluntarily to housing association properties across the south coast, in East Anglia, Kent and Shropshire.

In that context, I note that the top 10 areas of lettings (most popular first) are Basildon, Broxbourne, Hertsmere, Medway, Reigate and Banstead, Canterbury, Swale, Thurrock, Maldon and Dover.

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