Afghan families at risk of homelessness as councils reach ‘crisis point’
Cllr Shaun Davies, Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA), said unsustainable pressures on local services means that many families could face homelessness in his first speech at the Annual Conference.
Around 8,000 Afghan individuals and families are currently housed at 59 temporary bridging hotels across the country.
However, the Home Office has served notice for these to leave by the end of August and provided details of available support for them to find their own settled accommodation.
Local government leaders said there is a risk of these families becoming homeless and ending up in temporary accommodation due to a housing shortage and long waiting lists.
Speaking at the Local Government Association (LGA) Annual Conference on Tuesday (4 July), Cllr Shaun Davies said councils have a ‘proud history of stepping up during humanitarian crises and supporting asylum seekers and refugees to settle in the UK and rebuild their lives.’ He added that councils are working hard to support Afghan households served with eviction notices with enhanced case working, involving councils, government and the community and voluntary sector, attempting to help them to find accommodation.
The government recently provided councils with £35 million of new money to support this case working in hotels and to fund potential homelessness demand, as well as launching a second round of the Local Authority Housing Fund round of £250 million, which had a focus on helping councils source homes to house Afghans.
However, the LGA said the acute shortage of housing available across the country and short timeframe until the end of notice periods is making the ability to quickly secure appropriate accommodation for all Afghan families in bridging hotels extremely challenging. Councils are increasingly concerned that many will end up needing homelessness support if families – some of whom are vulnerable and include children – fail to find properties or refuse the offer they receive.
The LGA said government needs to “urgently hit the switch on a radical reset on the current relationship with councils on asylum and resettlement schemes.” Council leaders say they are growing increasingly frustrated about a lack of recognition of existing local pressures and a failure to adequately engage with councils on the ground about the complexities they face.
An increase in the number of small boat crossings, as well as a rise in the arrival of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC), is having an effect as councils carry out their statutory duties and try to manage the impact on local services and community cohesion as a result of ongoing asylum and resettlement pressures.
The number of homeless Ukrainian refugee households has also more than doubled in just over six months – with almost 700 households currently living in temporary accommodation. The LGA says recent additional funding could help reduce homelessness risks for new arrivals, but say they are concerned that there is no funding beyond the first year for councils, and funding for arrivals in 2023 has halved.
Cllr Shaun Davies, new LGA Chair in his first speech at the Annual Conference, said combined pressures from government asylum and resettlement schemes are growing on councils.
“We are at crisis point. We want to work with the Government to get this right. Not just in a way that best supports the people arriving in the UK but also tackles the unsustainable pressures on our local services and on our communities.”
£38,223 to £40,221
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