Almost £20 million spent on temporary housing for homeless in Luton – as councils call for support

Here are what the official figures revealed
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Almost £20 million was spent on temporary housing for the homeless in Luton in the year to March, figures show.

More than 100 district councils across England have urged the Government to take action to prevent a homelessness crisis.

Figures from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show £19,478,000 was spent on temporarily housing the homeless in Luton in the year to March. Of this, £7,047,000 was covered by the council.

A rough sleeper packs up their makeshift bed. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesA rough sleeper packs up their makeshift bed. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
A rough sleeper packs up their makeshift bed. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

A spokesperson for Luton Borough Council said: “It’s no secret that there is a massive housing crisis gripping the UK and we join councils across the country in calling on the government to take urgent action to address it.

“Here in Luton we have made great strides in reducing the number of households requiring temporary housing, but with the cost of living crisis, and the current economic situation, along with a number of other factors outside of our control, we are also under extreme pressure.

“While much of the money spent by the council on temporary accommodation is recouped from the government through housing benefits, the amount of money being spent in Luton and other places across the country on temporary accommodation demonstrates clearly that urgent action is needed by central government.

“Luton in particular is significantly affected by a shortage of suitable accommodation which means we have to rely upon temporary accommodation far more than we would wish to. We are currently working with a range of developers to identify and develop areas to provide the sort of housing the people of Luton deserve.”

On Monday (November 6), a group of council leaders sent a letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, urging him to raise local housing allowances and provide £300m in discretionary housing payments by March 2025.

Councillor Hannah Dalton, the District Councils’ Network housing spokesperson, said: "The fact that 119 council leaders from all political groups have joined up to demand urgent action from the Chancellor on homelessness demonstrates that we are in an emergency situation, right across the country.

"Councils simply do not have the money to cope with this surge of demand for temporary accommodation and without action from Jeremy Hunt they will have no option but to cut services."

"Such is the scale of the problem that some councils will find themselves effectively bankrupt," she warned.

Shelter, a homelessness charity, has blamed the freezing of the housing benefit combined with "decades of failure" in housing policy for the growing cost of temporary accommodation to councils.

In Luton, £16,469,000 was spent on nightly paid private accommodation – the most of any type of temporary accommodation in the area.

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: "Local authorities have seen an increase in Core Spending Power of up to £5.1 billion or 9.4% in cash terms on 2022/23, with almost £60 billion available for local government in England.

"We are committed to reducing the need for temporary accommodation by preventing homelessness before it occurs in the first place, which is why we are providing councils with £1 billion through the Homelessness Prevention Grant over three years.

"We are also delivering a fairer private rented sector for tenants and landlords through the Renters Reform Bill which includes abolishing Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions.”