Mistakes on homelessness are making matters worse, says Ombudsman

By Heather Jameson | 15 July 2020

Problems with the way councils are meeting their housing duties are making things worse for homeless people, the Ombudsman found.

Analysing 50 cases it investigated after the Homeless Reduction Act was introduced – but before COVID-19 – the Ombudsman found problems with delays and poor communication made matters worse for those seeking help.

Ombudsman Michael King said: ‘Our cases show that while people are not being made homeless by councils failing to meet their new duties, their problems are compounded – and [they are] often left homeless for longer than they might have been, when councils do not get things right.’

‘While we do see evidence of good practice up and down the country, I would urge all councils with responsibility for housing people in need to read my report and assess whether they can learn from it to make improvements to their own services,’ he added.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils supported the principles of the Homeless Reduction Act but they have been hampered by a lack of funding.

LGA housing spokesperson, Cllr David Renard, said: ‘Councils need to be fully funded for service delivery and loss of income so that they can effectively deliver the Homelessness Reduction Act and keep people from experiencing homelessness.’

He called for the Government to remove the No Recourse to Public Funds condition during the pandemic, for a bank on ‘no fault’ evictions and for councils to be able to keep 100% of receipts from Right to Buy.

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