Homelessness in the UK is something that doesn't often make headline news. That's despite an increase in the number of households who have become homeless during the pandemic. Following recent figures showing an increase in the number of homeless households in the UK in the three months to the end of June, the Government has announced £15 million of new funding to support homelessness through the Protect Programme.
As well as this additional government support, local councils are already working hard to provide at least temporary accommodation for rough sleepers and homeless households during the pandemic. Looking ahead, through the creation of plans for homeless people there is some hope the numbers of homeless households will decline, particularly with support from all areas of the rental sector and the use of reliable technology such as that on offer from rent guarantor.
Homelessness Rises in Q2
Government figures published in October 2020 show that at the end of June this year, the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation rose to 98,300, up 7% from 92,190 households at the end of March. That was a 14% increase from the same period in 2019. The data also highlighted a steep rise of 14% in the number of homeless households living in emergency accommodation.
The top three reasons behind this increase in homelessness during the second quarter of 2020 were:
- Households no longer being able to stay with families and friends due to coronavirus and related restrictions (33%).
- The loss of a private tenancy (11%).
- Domestic abuse (11%).
Soon after this information was published, the UK government announced its new Protect Programme which includes an additional £15 million of funding for rough sleeper accommodation, available between November 2020 and March 2021. The extra funding will only be available for regions with a high number of rough sleepers.
The Protect Programme also requires all local councils to update their planning for rough sleepers to ensure everyone ‘has somewhere to go’. While for some councils this is something that will require additional work, there are a number of councils who already have this in place and are acting on it.
Plans to Help Homeless Already Working
As the government requests local councils to update their planning for homeless households and rough sleepers, Southend-on-Sea is one of the many boroughs which has been working hard throughout the pandemic to help its rough sleepers and homeless population.
Following the government’s initial directive in March to borough councils to help rough sleepers, Southend-on-Sea was able to place 89 rough sleepers into accommodation over a period of just two days. Over the entire lockdown period, the borough council housed 138 rough sleepers in total. But their work didn’t end there.
As the tough lockdown measures came to an end, the council’s homeless teams worked to move 48 of those people from temporary to permanent accommodation and are continuing to support them through individual support plans. Part of Southend’s ‘move on’ plan for their homeless households is a new ‘property to let’ scheme where the council identifies suitable rental accommodation that could become part of its housing solution portfolio and become homes for former rough sleepers.
While this might seem a daunting prospect for some private sector landlords and letting agents, there are a number of ways renting to people in receipt of government benefits can become less of a risk. One of those is through the use of RentGuarantor.com.
While for many, the thought of a rent guarantor means family members and close friends, the development of property technology, or proptech, means there is another way. Rent Guarantor is the secure UK based Rent Guarantor that more and more councils, agents, landlords and tenants are turning to.
Through the use of their specifically created technology, Rent Guarantor provides landlords and letting agents with a UK-based guarantor, who agrees to cover the financial risk of rent payment defaults which will help reduce the cost of default administration. The option of using a professional rent guarantor service also removes the risk of non-payment by the guarantor. This is a more business-like approach to the rent guarantor option and avoids the personal issues that can arise between prospective tenants and a guarantor they know.
By working with local councils and the right technology, landlords and letting agents can receive a guaranteed income with peace of mind that any potential default will be covered without any fuss or delay. Homelessness continues to be a real problem for thousands of people across the UK, but with the right tools it can be significantly reduced over a short period of time.