Local housing authorities’ decisions uncovered

During April to June, local authorities made 61,300 decisions on homeless applications. This is 14% less than the corresponding quarter in 2004.

After seasonal adjustment the number of decisions was 61,740, 4% higher when compared to the previous quarter.

Apart from last quarter this is the lowest quarterly figure for almost five years.

Of the 61,300 applications made during the second quarter of 2005, 45 % of applicants were accepted, as owed the main homelessness duty; 29% were found to be not homeless; 21% were found to be homeless but not in priority need; and 6% were found to be intentionally homeless and in priority need.

Between April and June, local authorities accepted 27,310 households as being owed the main homelessness duty (acceptances). This is 17% lower when compared with the corresponding quarter last year. After seasonal adjustment the
number of acceptances during the second quarter of 2005 was 27,100, 2% more than the previous quarter, but otherwise the lowest seasonally adjusted quarterly total for more than five years.

Between April and June, 74% of acceptances were from households classified as White, and 21% from a BME group. The remaining 5% were from households where the ethnic origin was not known.

However, there is large variation in the ethnicity across the regions. In London, 41% of acceptances were white, while in the North East it was 95%.

London had the highest percentage of acceptances from Black and Asian groups (30 and 11% respectively) and also for other ethnic groups (13%).

The West Midlands had the next highest acceptances from Black and Asian groups (at 9 and 8% respectively).

Of all the regions, London had the highest incidence of acceptances per 1,000 households during the quarter, at 1.9, compared to 1.3 for England as a whole.

The South East, at 0.8 per 1,000 households had the lowest.

Between April and June, in 52% of acceptances the presence of dependent children in the household was the primary reason for priority need, and a further 12% of households had priority need because they included a pregnant woman.

These percentages have been largely constant since the latter
half of 2002. Since 1997 the percentage of acceptances who were households that included dependent children or an expectant mother has ranged between 60 and 70%.

Between April and June, in 38% of acceptances the reason for
homelessness was because parents, relatives or friends (mostly parents) were no longer able, or willing, to accommodate them. This proportion has gradually risen since 1997, when it applied in around 27% of acceptances. In a further 19% of acceptances during the second quarter the reason for homelessness was the breakdown of a relationship with a partner, with around
two-thirds of these cases involving violence.

In an additional 14%, the reason for homelessness was the ending of an assured shorthold tenancy.

At 2%, the proportion of acceptances where homelessness resulted from mortgage arrears was much less than its peak level – 12% during 1991 -and has been around 2% or less for the past three years.

Of the 27,310 acceptances between April and June, 47% were placed in some form of temporary accommodation, for a period of time. A further 36% were recorded as “homeless at home” while awaiting the provision of alternative accommodation. 12% were provided with settled accommodation, by being granted a secure tenancy in local authority accommodation or an “assured shorthold tenancy”. The remaining 5 per cent either made their own arrangements or had no further contact with the authority, thus bringing the homelessness duty to an end.

The number of households in temporary accommodation on June 30 2005, arranged by local authorities under homelessness legislation was 100,970. This is 1,440 (1%) higher than at the end of June 2004, but virtually unchanged from the figure of 101,070 at the end of March 2005.

Of these 100,970 households, 12% were being accommodated pending a decision on their application, or pending the outcome of an appeal to the county court on the authority’s decision, or had been found intentionally homeless and in priority need and subsequently were being accommodated for such a period as
would give them a reasonable opportunity to find accommodation for themselves.

84% of households in temporary accommodation were in self-contained accommodation (either in Local Authority/Registered Social Landlord stock or within the private sector) and 16% were in accommodation with shared facilities (bed and breakfast; hostels and women’s refuges).

Of the 100,970 households in temporary accommodation on June 30, 72,810 (72%) included dependent children and/or a pregnant woman.

Of these 72,810 households, 91% were in self-contained accommodation. Only 1,300 (2%) were in B&B accommodation and of these some 130 had been resident for more than 6 weeks (around 50 of these were being housed under local authorities’ discretionary powers).

Use of accommodation with shared facilities has been declining in recent years, through reduced bed and breakfast usage, with a rise in the provision of self-contained accommodation. In this respect there has been a significant increase in the short-term leasing of accommodation by local authorities or housing associations from private sector landlords.

On 30 June 2005, 57,370 households (57% of all those in TA) were in private sector accommodation, most commonly in a property leased by the local authority or registered social landlord (RSL, or housing association), or in some cases let directly to the applicant as the tenant of a private sector landlord. This is
virtually unchanged compared with the end of March 2005, an increase of 7% over June 2004 and an increase of 31,570 (122 per cent) over June 2000.