A new drive to end homelessness in London

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1 A new drive to end homelessness in London Homelessness in London is rising. The start of 2012 saw a 26% increase in rough sleeping on the same period last year 1 and the number accepted by their council as homeless and entitled to accommodation rose by 20% in , as well as many tens of thousands of people getting by in hidden homeless situations. With ever increasing demand for an ever dwindling supply of social housing, rents soaring in the private sector, 1 in 10 Londoners now unemployed and cuts to housing benefit and support services biting, we face a real and pressing housing crisis in the capital. We need action. It cannot be right that, in the twenty first century in one of the richest cities in the world, people are still left facing homelessness and there are still people sleeping on our streets. A place to call home. Homelessness is once again rising in the capital. This is an issue which must be tackled, and the next Mayor will have unprecedented new powers to do it. The Mayor will have control of London s 3bn development budget for the first time, 530 hectares of land, 49 new staff and a new Housing and Land department. As we look to the Olympics, London s people, politicians, businesses and community organisations have proven that we can pull together to plan and deliver major infrastructure projects and regeneration, to deliver on time and to rise to the challenge. We must now take a similar approach, dedication, vision and commitment to tackling some of our entrenched social problems. We believe there is no excuse not to pull together now to end homelessness for good and with the tools to do it, the next Mayor must take the lead for London. We are calling on all of the Mayoral candidates to pledge their commitment towards ending homelessness and to taking forward our 5 action points: 1 Broadway (2012) Bi-monthly Street to Home Report 2 DCLG (2011) Statutory Homeless

2 The Mayor s pledge I will make it a personal priority to lead a new drive to end homelessness in London, using all of my powers and resources and bringing together the city s boroughs to prevent and tackle homelessness and ensure that all of London s citizens have a place to call home Crisis five point plan 1. Rough sleeping ended and wider homelessness a priority 2. All homeless people able to access the healthcare, skills and back-to-work support they need 3. A significant increase in the supply of genuinely affordable social housing 4. A private rented sector that works for everyone, providing secure and affordable accommodation of a decent standard 5. London s interests championed at a national policy level 1. Rough sleeping ended and wider homelessness a priority Last year there were nearly 4,000 people seen sleeping rough on the streets of London and nearly 12,000 Londoners were accepted by local authorities as homeless and entitled to housing 3. Despite this, funding for vital services that tackle homelessness is being cut as local authority budgets are squeezed. 58% of London homeless projects report that their funding decreased in 2011/12, with 63% saying this had a direct impact on services 4. Some good progress has been made over the last Mayoral term towards tackling homelessness and rough sleeping but more needs to be done. Crisis believes that no one should ever have to resort to sleeping rough but if they do they should be helped swiftly off the streets and supported to stay off for good. The next Mayor must ensure that local authorities provide meaningful advice and emergency accommodation to all homeless people and that homelessness services are properly funded throughout the capital. I went to the homeless place, see if they d put me in a hostel or summat. They said I didn t fit the criteria. They are supposed to be there to help the homeless, all they did was give me a booklet which I can t read. Chris, who was interviewed for Crisis research in DCLG (2011) Statutory Homeless 4 Homeless Link (2012) Survey of Needs and Provision 2012

3 2. All homeless people able to access the healthcare, skills and back-to-work support they need Homeless people are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded in society. The average age of death of a homeless person is just 47 years old, compared to 77 for the general population 5, and only 2% are in full time employment. We know that most want to work, but with 60% having low or no qualifications, the vast majority of jobs are beyond their reach 6. Even for those who have previously achieved qualifications, the experience of homelessness itself deskills and isolates, destroying self-esteem and social ties. Training and education can give homeless people the skills and confidence required to get them back into work. The experience of homelessness can also have seriously detrimental effects on physical and mental wellbeing, yet too often homeless people can t access mainstream healthcare. There are some good specialist services available, but whether they will continue to be funded under the new NHS structure is a real concern. The Mayor must bring together his wider powers to address the needs of homeless people. This includes ensuring that both mainstream and adequate specialist health services are accessible across London, as well as investing in learning and skills projects and effective back to work support. I have got a lot of health problems It does worry me, [being] without a doctor I find it difficult but I still carry on because I believe that I mustn t give up because if you give up you wont get nowhere in life. Scott, who attended Crisis at Christmas A significant increase in the supply of affordable housing Housing supply in London has failed to keep up with demand for several decades, and we now face a desperate shortage of housing. There are currently over 360,000 households on the social housing waiting list in London, that s one in nine 7, and the average home costs 15 times the average London income 8, easily the highest ratio of prices to incomes in the country. At the same time, only 56 new affordable homes were started in London in the six months to September The new Mayor must urgently increase the supply of housing across all tenures, including social housing that is genuinely affordable and specialist accommodation for vulnerable groups. Every Londoner should be able to afford a home; the Mayor must ensure that those on low incomes are not priced out of the city and that those who need support alongside accommodation get it. 5 Crisis (2011) Homelessness: a silent killer 6 OSW (2005) No Home, No Job. 7 NHF (2011) Home Truths - London 8 Ibid

4 4. A private rented sector that works for all, providing secure and affordable accommodation of a decent standard The private rented sector is growing, yet we know that too many private homes are of a poor standard, with insecure tenancies and unaffordable rent. 850,000 households are now renting privately in London, that s one in four. Between 2000 and 2010 the Private Rented Sector (PRS) in London grew by 83%, and is forecast to grow further. Housing in London For many people renting privately is their only option and Crisis believes that, with the right support and safeguards in place, the PRS can provide sustainable homes. However, there have long been concerns about certain aspects of the PRS which need addressing. A third of private rented homes in the capital fail to meet the decent homes standard 9 and average rent is now more than 50% of average take-home pay in the majority of London local authorities 10. For the PRS to be suitable for all it needs to offer good quality, well located and affordable housing with an appropriate degree of security, including to those on Housing Benefit. The Mayor must make sure that local authorities actively manage the private rented sector, including providing a good quality PRS access scheme open to all who need it in every area and enforcing minimum standards across the sector. The Mayor must ensure that local authorities support those affected by cuts to Housing Benefit in their area so that the PRS remains a feasible option for those on low incomes. 9 LA Planning and Housing Committee (2011) Bleak Houses 10 Shelter (2011) Private Rent Watch

5 5. London s interests championed at a national policy level The economic downturn and changes to Government welfare policies have hit London particularly hard often due to a failure to address London s specific needs and the impact that changes will have on the capital. Unemployment is rising faster in London than the national average 11 and many working Londoners are seeing their incomes squeezed, increasing the number dependent on Local Housing Allowance to pay their rent. Nearly 160,000 Londoners will lose an average of 22 p/week from the first wave of housing benefit cuts alone, resulting in many thousands unable to afford their rent 12 and forced to move. With London rents on average 80% higher than the rest of the UK 13 and the proportion of London neighbourhoods affordable to housing benefit claimants reduced from 75% to 51% 14 in 2011, and predicted to fall even further to 36% by 2016, there is a real question about where people will go and what this will mean for London s neighbourhoods. Estimate of London boroughs that will be unaffordable to LHA claimants in We need a Mayor who will champion London s interests. Who will fight for funds and investment in the capital and ensure that central Government considers the specific impact of policy changes and cuts on London so that it remains a city for all its citizens, including the poor and vulnerable. It [being homeless] is getting harder all the time... I don t think it s going to get any better in I think it s going to get worse. Brian, a former rough sleeper and Crisis client 11 ONS (2011) Labour Market Statistics 12 London Councils (2011) Does the Cap fit? 13 HomeLet (2011) Greater London Rental Index 14 CCHPR (2011) Housing Benefit reform and the spatial segregation of low-income households in London 15 Ibid

6 It is time for a new drive to end homelessness in London. The next Mayor must make this a personal priority; using all of their powers and resources and bringing together the city s boroughs to prevent and tackle homelessness and ensure that all of London s citizens have a place to call home. About Crisis Crisis is the national charity for single homeless people. We are dedicated to ending homelessness by delivering life-changing services and campaigning for change. Our innovative education, employment, housing and well-being services address individual needs and help homeless people to transform their lives, in London and across the UK. Please join us and call on the Mayoral candidates to commit to making housing and homelessness a priority for London. For more information or to sign the pledge contact: Helen Undy Campaigns Manager Crisis Crisis 2012 Crisis UK (trading as Crisis). Registered Charity Numbers: E&W , SC Company Number:

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