Press release: LGiU launch Local Government Homelessness Commission

LGiU launch Local Government Homelessness Commission

Councils to examine local solutions required to combat growing homelessness crisis

                                        

Today, the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) launches the Local Government Homelessness Commission (LGHC), a year-long initiative to investigate how councils can help prevent homelessness.

The homelessness crisis in the UK is large and growing rapidly. Government statistics released earlier this year showed that 4,751 people slept rough in 2017, an increase of 15 per cent. The Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) has been in force since April, part of the Government’s stated aim to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eliminate it by 2027.  Under the Act, councils now have expanded duties to implement housing plans for anyone at risk of becoming homeless within 56 days.

It is for this reason that the LGiU have launched the LGHC, co-chaired by Cllr Peter Fleming (Leader, Sevenoaks District Council) and Cllr Simon Blackburn (Leader, Blackpool Council), and led my LGiU members. Through a series of investigations into how councils can prevent homelessness, the LGHC will provide practical solutions for making good on the goals of the HRA, as well as a robust set of challenges and demands for central government to provide the right resources, powers and tools for councils to tackle this task.

The Commission’s work will focus on four key themes aimed at preventing homelessness including: temporary accommodation; data; supporting young people and other vulnerable groups; and economics and finance. Beginning in the Autumn, through a series of evidence sessions, the LGHC will work to develop strong, practical recommendations for councils to tackle homelessness, best practice and expert evidence, as well as firm demands of central government for the resources, powers and infrastructure required. A full report on the outcomes of the Commission’s work will be launched in early 2019.

Cllr Peter Fleming, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council and co-chair of the LGiU’s Homelessness Commission, said: “‘There is a clear and unambiguous need for local government to put our collective minds to solutions that can be quickly moved to actions, to urgently turn the runaway train of increasing homelessness in this country around.

The LGIU’s Local Government Homelessness Commission, timed as it is after the Government’s Homelessness Reduction Act, allows us to look at what is being done, what can be done and what more needs to be done to make a long lasting and real impact on reducing homelessness in this country.”

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council and Co-Chair of the LGiU’s Homelessness Commission, said: “With the crisis of homelessness increasing rapidly, we have a responsibility across local government to step up and find ways that it can be tackled. This is a complex picture, which is different in different parts of the country. It is therefore about using the right tools to prevent homelessness in local areas, but we also call on central government for the resources and support to make this work.

The Local Government Homelessness Commission, which LGiU has set up, is timely and, most important, it will be led by the councils and councillors with the responsibility to address this problem.

Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, said: “This is an essential time for local government to examine what can be done locally to combat the rapidly growing homelessness crisis across the country.  It is for this reason that we are proud to be launching the Local Government Homelessness Commission with the support of our Co-Chairs and members. The Commission’s work is an important milestone as we look to build best practice and identify what resources, powers and tools are required from Government moving forward for councils up and down the country to take a lead in preventing this crisis.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

The Local Government Homelessness Commission launched on Friday 6 July 2018 with support from Co-Chairs Cllr Peter Fleming and Cllr Simon Blackburn (further detail below). The Commission will take evidences sessions from Autumn 2018 with a full report on the outcomes launched in March/ April 2019.

Case studies are available upon request.

About the Co-Chairs of the Local Government Homelessness Commission

Cllr Peter Fleming, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council

Peter Fleming has been a District Councillor since 1999 and has led Sevenoaks District Council for the last ten years. As an authority, Sevenoaks District Council has been nationally recognised as leading the way in providing value for money and the good use of resources and is now preparing to become self-sufficient, no longer requiring direct government funding.

Peter is a Deputy Chairman of the LGA and regularly acts as a national spokesperson.  He is also a member of the LGA Leadership Board and LGA Executive and serves as the lead member for innovation on the Improvement and Innovation Board, having previously been the Board’s Chair from 2012 to 2015. Peter is also the Executive of the District Councils Network.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council

Cllr Blackburn has been Leader of Blackpool Labour Group since 2010 and Leader of the Council since 2011.  A father of three, and a former social worker, he now runs a supported housing charity, which accommodates and supports vulnerable young people.  Simon sees Housing – and particularly housing market reform, as a key part of the solution to Blackpool’s socio-economic and health challenges. The pioneer of the Blackpool Fairness Commission, Simon remains involved as a Commissioner, and is keen that the town focuses on reducing inequalities across the Borough and the region.  Simon has a longstanding involvement with the Local Government Association, currently serving as a member of the Labour Group Executive and acting as both a mentor for other Leaders, and a peer reviewer in the fields of Children’s Services, Adult Social Care, Planning, Corporate Governance and Highways.

About LGiU

The Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) is a think tank and membership body with over 200 councils and other organisations subscribing to our networks. We work to strengthen local democracy and put citizens in control of their own lives, communities and local services. For more information, visit www.lgiu.org.uk.