Comprehensive spending review

Posted: 27 November 2020 2:51 pm.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his comprehensive spending review in Parliament on 25 November in which he announced additional funding of £254 million to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping.

We’ve been considering the impact the changes might have on people facing homelessness and Dave Smith has today announced the following initial observations.

"Of course, an extra £151 million for rough sleepers is very welcome – building on the £103m announced earlier this year.

It will help our sector continue to find safe accommodation for rough sleepers and other homeless people through the pandemic period, and hopefully provide more long-term solutions beyond that.

Our hope is that the use of this funding is very flexible and imaginative.

It must be targeted to ensure people who need it can access support, and not diverted to large-scale capital projects.

It is also important to understand the scale of the challenge and how far this finding will go.

With 343 Local Authorities in England, that equates to around £0.75 million per council, before you consider the fact that City Councils will receive more than this average amount.

Shelter estimate that a further 350,000 households are now in very serious rent or mortgage arrears and are facing the prospect of losing their home as the eviction ban comes to an end.

With the £20 per week increase on Universal Credit rates due to end in April 2021, coupled with the freeze on Local Housing Allowance rates in 2020/21, we could see increases in homelessness if market rents levels increase over the next 12 months or so.

Final announcements on benefit rates are due in March 2021 so there is time for this to change – let’s hope it does.

The continued and additional support for the Affordable Homes Programme and further investment into energy efficiency to existing homes will hopefully result in more affordable homes becoming available to people in housing need.

Overall, I join voices across all sectors who are welcoming the new funding but questioning if these measures will be enough in the current circumstances and with an ever-growing need."

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