A new report by the Chartered institute of Housing (CIH) and the Centre for Homelessness Impact highlights that money spent on housing support could be used more effectively:
The report found that building 10,000 homes a year in the social rented sector would cost central government around £40 million a year but could in turn save £44 million a year in housing subsidies if used to house tenants currently in private rented housing or temporary accommodation.
James Prestwich, Director of Policy and External Affairs, CIH said:
“This joint report reveals the full benefit to the exchequer of building social rented homes.
“Councils currently house almost 75,000 households, at risk of homelessness, in private rented accommodation. If these households could be rehoused in social rented homes councils would save £572m a year.”
Dr Lígia Teixeira, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Homelessness Impact, said:
“We should ask hard questions about whether the very large sums paid in benefits to subsidise the housing costs of people on low incomes are being used in the most effective way.
“While evidence suggests this financial assistance constitutes an important part of the UK’s homelessness ‘safety net’, our report shows that it is possible to make limited resources go further: for instance, by redirecting some of this money into social housing which can be better value and more secure for tenants.”
Before the pandemic temporary accommodation for families experiencing homelessness was costing local authorities £1.2 billion a year; almost four fifths of such accommodation is met using private rented housing.
The Department of Work and Pensions currently spends £30.6 billion a year on HB and the housing element of UC, which is around 15% of the benefits budget. This is forecast to increase to £31.3 billion by 2025-26 as more people switch to UC.
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