A collective voice on welfare change

Our project funded by Trust for London, looks at links between the benefit system and homelessness in London.

Trust for London Homeless Link
Trust for London Homeless Link

This project culminated in a report published in March 2021. It was funded by the Trust for London. It looks at the links between Universal Credit, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) and the Benefit Cap. 

The report gives a thorough analysis of the benefits policy context during the pandemic with a focus on London. It looks at the availability and cost of accommodation in the private rented sector across London. With the growth in numbers claiming Universal Credit the report shows there is a real danger that there will be insufficient affordable accommodation. This will lead to an increase in homelessness as the pandemic ends. Work supported by Alma Economics found that, of the 32 London boroughs, 24 did not have sufficient shared private rented accommodation priced at or below the LHA rate to cover households claiming a housing element of their Universal Credit or housing benefit.

Homeless Link also worked with Groundswell to understand how people facing homelessness experience the benefits system. It paints a picture of uncertainty and instability. The report goes on to make recommendations for policy makers at a national level, across London and for practitioners working on homelessness. 

The report calls on national government to:  

  • Continue to link the LHA to the 30th percentile of rents in the private rented sector 
  • Extend the Universal Credit uplift for the next financial year at a minimum 
  • Reform the benefits cap so that it does not put anyone at risk of homelessness inside or outside of London 
  • Invest in sufficient new affordable housing and move on accommodation in London   
  • Ensure Work coaches are able to have more tailored communication with individuals and develop a more personalised approach to their needs. 
  • Explicitly recognise homelessness within the welfare benefit system so that people can benefit from personalised support plans that are appropriate for their situation. 

It calls on London Authorities to: 

  • Invest in new affordable housing and move on accommodation in London   
  • Build strengths and key skills of practitioners who are providing support to people facing homelessness. 
  • Co-produce information material, online and offline with people who have personal experience of accessing benefits.
  • Support working across boundaries by institutions in different sectors and across different Boroughs.

And it calls on people working in the homelessness sector to:

  • Co-produce information material, online and offline with people who have personal experience of accessing benefits will help to overcome communication barriers and improve entitlement uptake. 
  • Offer support to people trying to make online applications and also build their digital skills and promote accessibility or digital technology.  
  • Network to share good practice.  

Download the full report here.

The evaluation report for the whole project will be added here soon.