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Government offers councils more flexible funding for homelessness prevention work

The Government is offering councils what it says is a more flexible form of funding to help them prioritise homelessness prevention efforts.

The new ‘flexible homelessness support grant’ is a replacement for the tightly controlled funding currently given to source and manage temporary accommodation for homeless individuals and their families, according to the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG).

Under the existing ‘temporary accommodation management fee’, funding can only be used for expensive intervention when a household is already homeless, rather than on preventing this happening in the first place.

Instead, the new grant will “empower” councils to support the full range of homelessness services. This could include employing a homelessness prevention or tenancy support officer to work closely with people who are at risk of losing their homes.

“This Government is determined to help the most vulnerable in society, which is why we’re investing £550 million to 2020 to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping,” said communities minister Marcus Jones.

“We’ve brought in a raft of measures over the last few months, from funding homelessness projects in 225 local authorities to changing the law by backing Bob Blackman’s Homelessness Reduction Bill to support for more people at risk of losing their homes.

“We’re now going further and giving councils greater flexibility, so they can move away from costly intervention when a household is already homeless, to preventing this happening in the first place.

“Councils across England will receive £402 million over the next two years. No local authority will receive less annual funding under the grant than we estimate they would have received under the Department for Work and Pensions fee. First year allocations will also include an additional amount to authorities with high temporary accommodation commitments.”

Compared to the old system, the Government estimates that London councils will receive around £20 million more next year and that other high pressure areas, including Leeds, Birmingham, Reading, Peterborough and Portsmouth, will also gain significant additional funding.

In recognition of the particular pressures which London councils face, DCLG said it is also setting aside £25 million of the funding across the two years while it works with the Greater London Authority and London boroughs to look at how Government might help councils collaborate in the procurement of accommodation for homeless families in the capital.

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