How Greedy Landlords Are Fuelling a Homelessness Crisis
How Greedy Landlords Are Fuelling a Homelessness Crisis
By Julie Rugg / theconversation.com

When it comes to homelessness, sleeping rough in a shop doorway is just the start of the problem. From young people living with parents because of unaffordable rents, families sleeping in homeless hostels, or couples teetering on the edge of mortgage arrears, many of the homeless are hidden from sight.

However, rough sleeping figures in London are on the rise. In the 2010 rough sleeper count 415 people were noted as sleeping rough in the capital. In 2014, that number was 742 – an increase of 44% in the space of four years.

Like rough sleepers, the number of households in temporary accommodation has also been increasing. More than 50,000 households were living in temporary accommodation in London at the end of 2015, an increase from 45,810 on the previous year, and a massive leap from the 35,830 in 2011.

But while the numbers of households living in temporary accommodation are on the up, the numbers in B&Bs are going down. This is primarily because of a change in regulation which means the maximum amount of time a family can live in a B&B for is six weeks.

On the face of it, a decrease in families living in B&Bs long-term sounds like a good thing. But it’s how the private rented market has responded to this regulation that is really causing problems.

Home truths

The problems start with the way temporary accommodation is paid for. It sits in a complex and shady corner of the housing benefit regulations, where different rules apply.

Local authorities receive a special housing benefit subsidy directly from the government for people in temporary accommodation. This includes a weekly benefit payment based on the “normal” housing benefit plus a management subsidy of £40 a week, to contribute to the local authority’s costs in managing that tenancy.

Armed with this money, authorities then have to find landlords with properties they are willing to let, for the funds available. This is particularly tricky, because the weekly benefit payment for temporary accommodation has been frozen since January 2011. So as private sector rents continue to climb, local authorities are increasingly unable to find accommodation that comes within budget.

Give me shelter: inside a homeless refuge. Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

In the past, local authorities could negotiate for properties on long leases, pushing down the overall cost. Now suppliers are recognising local authorities are quite desperate to move households out of B&Bs as the six-week limit approaches, and are beginning to charge much higher nightly rates. Which are often well above the housing benefit subsidy.

This is major business in London. In 2014, expenditure on temporary accommodation reached over £663m. A quarter of that cost was met by local authorities themselves, topping up the shortfall between the housing benefit subsidy and the rents being charged. The “management fee” component is also being used to meet rent costs, with around £170m of temporary accommodation costs being met by local authorities themselves.

But of course, knowing more about the costs of temporary accommodation in London does not make it any less miserable for families waiting – often for years – to be offered a house they can afford to live in. It does however question the supposed savings being delivered by housing benefit cuts. Cutting housing benefit subsidy has not contained the cost of temporary accommodation. It has simply shifted the unmet cost from central to local government.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn · 13,105 views today · (Excerpted from the book, The Story of B) With every audience and every individual, I have to begin by making them see that the cultural self-awareness we inherit from our...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 9,408 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
10 Stunning Images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award
Natural History Museum · 8,124 views today · These incredible images are a selection from of the 25 shortlisted by The Natural History Museum for the People's Choice Award from this year's Wildlife Photographer of the...
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 7,235 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Van Jones: Only a 'Love Army' Will Conquer Trump
Tim Dickinson · 6,760 views today · Though it's important to fight Trump's policies, "it's at the values level that we need to do a reset," says Jones
The Problem with Hating Our Enemies
Charles Eisenstein · 3,406 views today · He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if thou gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into thee. —Nietzsche
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 2,510 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
David Graeber: We Need a Revolution in the Way We Think about "Work"
4 min · 2,026 views today · David Graeber on the Value of Work. Does the world really need neuroadvertisers, PR researchers and branding consultants? Renowned academic and coiner of the ‘we are the 99%’...
A New History for Humanity - the Human Era
8 min · 1,922 views today · It is time to reframe how we think about our past. We need a new year 0 for humanity. But which one should we choose and why?
Trump: The Illusion of Change
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 1,619 views today · “Only by restoring the broken connections can we be healed.” — Wendell Berry
How to Expose Trump's Dastardly Bait-And-Switch
Robert Borosage · 1,449 views today · Trump is not an economic populist, he’s just playing one on TV.
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 1,248 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,231 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
15 Easy Things You Can Do to Help When You Feel Like Shit
Maritsa Patrinos · 1,196 views today · You don’t have to tackle it all at once.
Asylum-Seeker Faces a Dangerous Deportation Back to Afghanistan
3 min · 1,185 views today · After an EU deal with Afghanistan, more than 80,000 rejected Afghan asylum-seekers are facing deportation back to that country. Alim says being sent back to Afghanistan could...
The Most Powerful Algorithm in the World
Joe Brewer · 1,136 views today · After the insanity of the U.S. election, a lot of people are blaming Facebook for its algorithms that parse us into ideological bubbles and spread “fake news” and other kinds...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,081 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
It's The Damn Police
Walter Fields · 975 views today · From an early age Blacks are socialized to live defensively and to absorb the mental body blows that come from the day-to-day indignities that are hoisted upon us by the very...
Ten Ways We Misunderstand Children
Jan Hunt · 833 views today · 1. We expect children to be able to do things before they are ready. We ask an infant to keep quiet. We ask a 2-year-old to sit still. We ask a 3-year-old to clean his room...
Why You Should Stop Apologizing for Doing All That You Can
Kelly Hayes · 753 views today · I’ve noticed lately that a lot of allies and accomplices I talk to about NoDAPL and other struggles will name what they are trying to contribute to the cause, and then promptly...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
How Greedy Landlords Are Fuelling a Homelessness Crisis