Briefing: Support for homelessness during the winter months

By: Reshima Sharma  Published: December 2020


Summary

Shelter is the UK’s largest housing and homelessness charity. Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to provide information, support and advice to thousands of people experiencing bad housing or facing homelessness.

The government has introduced welcome interventions to protect people sleeping rough and those at the sharpest end of the housing emergency against the impact of COVID-19. However, despite the measures in place, people have fallen through the gaps in support. People at risk of sleeping rough have been turned away without emergency accommodation. Hundreds of thousands of private renters have fallen into rent arrears. Homeless families have had no option but to self-isolate in unsuitable, overcrowded temporary accommodation.

To protect those at the sharp end of the housing emergency this winter and beyond, the government must:

  • Provide unequivocal guidance and the necessary funding to local housing authorities to ensure everyone at risk of sleeping rough is accommodated during the winter months.
  • Strengthen our welfare safety net, by removing the benefit cap, reversing the freeze to Local Housing Allowance (LHA), and ensuring the rates align with at least the 30th percentile of market rents going forward.
  • Extend the current bailiff ban to tiers 2 and 3 after January 11th, and bring forward legislation to give private renters security by ending Section 21 “no fault” evictions, which remains one of the leading causes of homelessness.
  • Invest in a new generation of social housing, to provide families with stable, permanent and affordable homes.

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