London homeless reducing, says Cooper

Housing Minister Yvettte Cooper has welcomed a 14% reduction in the number of households becoming homeless in London.

National Statistics published today show there are 920 fewer homelessness acceptences in London compared with the same period last year. This is the latest in an overall national downward trend in acceptances since the beginning of 2004.

The reductions confirm the effectiveness of homelessness prevention strategies promoted by the government and supported by 200m of investment.

The Minister also announced a further 40m over the next two years to Local Authorities London to help sustain these reductions and prevent further cases in homelessness. The funding will be allocated to local authorities over two years, 2006/07 and 2007/08, to deliver front line services and take forward other initiatives to reduce homelessness.

This includes drug rehabilitation treatment, mediation to resolve family and relationship problems and support for women experiencing domestic violence. A survey of English local authorities on homelessness was also published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister today, showing how prevention is working.

Local authorities have estimated they have prevented homelessness for more than 50,000 households during 2004-05, through investment in prevention schemes such as rent deposits and mediation. Furthermore, the government announced last week further support for new social housing.

The government is funding a 50% increase in new social housing during the current spending review period up to 2008. In addition, as part of the response to the Barker Review, the government announced it would go further and make social housing a priority in the next spending review as well.

Cooper says the government has made major progress in reducing the number of people becoming homeless. Cooper says: “The number of new cases of homelessness has fallen by 14% in London compared with the same period last year. Record investment and programmes to prevent people becoming homeless are making a big difference.

Alongside this, we have reduced rough sleeping nationally by 75% and ended the scandal of families living in bed and breakfast hotels for long periods.
The next steps are to get more people into settled homes and out of temporary accomodation. We also need to keep up progress on prevention and build more social housing as well as more new homes across the board.”

Over the last three years, the government invested more than 200m to prevent and reduce homelessness, funding measures such as rent deposit schemes to enable households to find good quality accommodation in the private sector, and mediation services to resolve family relationship breakdowns and enable young people to remain in the family home.

New laws were also introduced under the Homelessness Act 2002 to ensure all local authorities have a strategy in place to prevent and reduce homelessness. The government plans to build an extra 10,000 social homes a year by 2008 – a 50% increase on current rates. It also has a target in place to cut the number of households living in temporary accommodation by half by 2010.

While the vast majority, 84% are living in good quality, self-contained housing, they do not have the security and opportunities that a settled home brings. These measures will further reduce and prevent homelessness and help to meet the government’s ambition of providing decent homes for all in thriving and sustainable communities.

Today’s National Statistics show the number of households in temporary accommodation has stabilised at around 100,000 for over a year, with the number of households in good quality temporary accommodation continuing to rise.