The Leader of Colchester City Council, Cllr David King, has joined over 150 other council leaders in England in signing an open letter to the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, urging him to intervene to prevent the collapse of local homelessness services given the soaring costs of providing emergency housing.
The letter, signed by a cross-party group of local authority leaders, describes mounting temporary housing bills as a “critical risk to the financial sustainability of many local authorities.”
Cllr King says costs for Colchester City Council are expected to increase by nearly £1m this year and the outlook is for worse to come.
“We are not going broke, like some councils, but we are facing some huge challenges like housing costs,” he said. “That is a toxic mix of rising no-fault evictions, less help for those struggling with rising rental costs, and high mortgage costs. We need government to help us help those struggling to keep a roof over their heads.”
The open letter calls on the government to take urgent action to address the crisis, including raising Local Housing Allowance rates to a level that will cover at least 30% of local market rent, providing £100m additional funding for Discretionary Housing Payments in 2023/24 and an additional £200m in 2024/25, and providing a £150m top-up to the Homelessness Prevention Grant for 2024/25.
Cllr King said he hoped the Chancellor would listen to the concerns of local authorities and take action to prevent a homelessness crisis.
“The number of people needing our help is increasing all the time and the cost of providing that help is spiralling upwards,” he said. “I urge the Chancellor to listen to our concerns. We are facing a very real crisis here, and without action more councils risk going broke.”
Page last reviewed: 7 November 2023