Assembly calls for action on rising homelessness

07 December 2016

Homelessness is on the rise in London and the London Assembly has today agreed a motion calling on the Mayor to recognise the depth of the homelessness problem.

The Mayor should work with local boroughs to ensure that care leavers and ex-service people especially are given the right support.

The Mayor should also lobby the Government to offer a ring-fenced increase in funding for local boroughs, so that they can provide sufficient accommodation to homeless Londoners.   

Leonie Cooper AM, who proposed the motion said:

“Whilst we welcome the Homelessness Reduction Bill, London’s councils have made it patently clear they will need additional resources for their additional duties. We call on the Mayor to work with local authorities and charities to ensure London’s support offer to the homeless is second to none, particularly for vulnerable groups likely to be at risk of homelessness, including care leavers and ex-service personnel.

Though this bill is valuable in mitigating against the consequences of homelessness, it does nothing to alleviate its causes. We simply must build more homes, crucially more affordable homes, to end London’s acute housing crisis.”

The full text of the Motion is:

“The London Assembly notes the latest statistics which show that rising homelessness is hitting London hardest. People living on the streets with few possessions is something Londoners thought they had seen the last of - but is sadly now on the increase once again. In Autumn 2015 London had 940, a 27% increase from 2014.[2]

London is caught in a perfect storm. Increasing house prices, rising rents and unscrupulous landlords– as well as the impact of the Bedroom Tax and increased Local Authority rents – mean that many struggle to find secure accommodation. Government caps to the Local Housing Allowance make many private sector tenancies simply too expensive for claimants, whilst benefit caps across the board are making household budgets tight for many, not just the poorest. On top of this, local authority budgets to support those with alcohol, drug or mental health needs are under severe pressure, if not reduced or cut.  The DCLG estimates that 41% of rough sleepers have alcohol support needs, 31% drug support needs and 45% mental health support needs, with 13% having all three needs.  The young LGBT community is also disproportionately affected; LGBT young people are more likely to find themselves homeless than their non LGBT peers, comprising up to 24% of the youth homeless population.[3]

Overall, there is now insufficient supply to meet Londoners’ housing needs, whether in the private or social rented sector - or for those who wish to purchase their own home - and many people find themselves in over-crowded accommodation, sofa surfing or on the streets.

People who have left the care system and ex-service personnel continue to be over-represented amongst those on the streets something that Assembly Members feel strongly about and must be acted upon.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to recognise the depth of the problem in London, and:

  • Work with London Boroughs to ensure that those sleeping out are offered quick and appropriate alternatives, with support for additional needs, if any;
  • Work with the Boroughs to ensure care leavers do not end up on the streets of London;
  • Work with the Royal British Legion and other organisations that support ex-service people, to ensure we support them on their return from duty;
  • Lobby the Government to offer a ring-fenced increase in funding for London Local Authorities to ensure the additional costs of providing accommodation for homeless Londoners does not disproportionately impact the budgets of London Authorities.” 

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the full webcast
  2. The motion was agreed by 12 votes for, to 0 votes against.
  3. Rough Sleeping Statistics Autumn 2015, England, Published February 2016
  4. LGBT Youth Homelessness report, The Albert Kennedy Trust 
  5. Leonie Cooper AM, who proposed the motion, is available for interviews. Please see contact details below. 
  6. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.