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One Londoner could be made homelessness every 8 and a half minutes this winter says charity

Single Homeless Project calls to unfreeze Local Housing Allowance rate immediately as homelessness escalates in London

An eviction notice
Photo by Allan Vega on Unsplash

Charity Single Homeless Project is calling for the Government to unfreeze the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) immediately and not wait until April 2024 – as proposed in the Autumn statement.

Single Homeless Project is calling for immediate Government action as new analysis reveals that 17,500 could be forced into homelessness before April – one person every 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

The LHA determines the amount someone can receive in housing benefit, set at the cheapest 30% of privately rented properties in the local area. The current level has been frozen since 2020, based on rents in 2018-19, despite surging rent costs in the capital. It is now a leading cause of homelessness in London. The freeze forces many into rent arrears and homelessness. It also means that Londoners living in homeless hostels and temporary accommodation are often stuck there for months, unable to afford the rent in a private rented property and blocking the bed space needed to help someone else off the streets.

Khaleel, 26, is originally from Brent. He has been stuck in temporary housing in North London for six months. He is unable to move on with his life because the LHA isn’t enough for him to afford to rent in even the most basic of places.  “When I was homeless and had to sleep in my car, I felt lost and hopeless. Luckily, I received the help I needed. I want to put that experience behind me, get on with my life and train for my future career as an electrician. I’m asking the Government to increase the LHA rate now so I can start 2024 with a fair chance at making the most of life’s opportunities.”

According to Single Homeless Project, unfreezing the Local Housing Allowance immediately would prevent homelessness for many hundreds of Londoners who will otherwise face rent arrears and eviction before April 2024.  It would also free up hundreds of spaces in temporary accommodation and hostels to help people off the streets as those currently stuck there would be able to afford to move into private rented accommodation

 Liz Rutherfoord, Chief Executive at Single Homeless Project said: “Homelessness is at a record high in our city with one person pushed into this devastating situation every 8 and a half minutes. The Government has already shown they recognise that the current Local Housing Allowance isn’t fit for purpose. The situation is urgent now, so why must thousands of Londoners face a truly miserable winter, when action could be taken immediately?

“As a charity, we prevent homelessness for thousands of Londoners every year and we help people move from temporary accommodation into a private rented property. In both cases, the Government’s low Local Housing Allowance is hindering our efforts and not giving Londoners a fair chance.”

Tadhg Mockler is a Resettlement Officer at one of Single Homeless Project’s emergency accommodation services. The service is designed to help people experiencing homelessness to move on into private rented properties or social housing within 28 days. He said: “Every day I see people who are ready to move on with their lives but stuck for months on end in what should be a very temporary situation. One of the biggest factors holding me back from being able to help is that the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) isn’t enough to afford rent in even the most basic of rooms. It’s a horrible feeling knowing that your hands are tied, and you just must watch someone’s potential stagnate whilst you relentlessly try every single option for them. Increasing the LHA now would mean I could help more people straight away.”

It is estimated that one in fifty Londoners are homeless and living in temporary accommodation with boroughs collectively spending £60 million monthly on temporary accommodation.

Single Homeless Project is asking for donations to help Londoners through the winter and leave homelessness behind, for good. To donate and find out how you can help a Londoner this Christmas, visit www.action.shp.org.uk


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