22 Sep 2022

The cost of living crisis could have a ‘catastrophic’ impact on homelessness unless an immediate eviction ban is introduced.

That’s the view of a group of experts from the housing, homelessness, health and political sectors – led by a government adviser who used to be Britain’s top civil servant.

The Kerslake Commission’s latest report assesses the steps made towards ending rough sleeping in England and considers the impact of the current economic crisis.

The commission – chaired by the former Head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake – is an independent group of 36 experts from the health, housing and homelessness sectors, including people with so-called ‘lived experience’ as well as representatives from local and national government.

It operates independently of the government but the latest report includes involvement from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; its report is one of many sent to the government in an advisory capacity.

The report recommends: 

  • Reintroducing a temporary ban on evictions, as seen during the pandemic, to ensure that no one is made homeless as a result of the cost of living crisis – mirroring what was announced in Scotland earlier this month;
  • Increasing the benefit cap and bringing benefits in line with inflation immediately – not in April 2023 as planned;
  • Raising local housing allowances so that so they are in line with the bottom 30 per cent of the market.

Lord Kerslake says: “This Commission was formed in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and we have seen much progress and excellent work … However, two years on from the pandemic we are facing a new crisis. The cause may be different by it the response must be equally urgent.

“The new Prime Minister has already announced plans to cap average household energy bills at £2,500 a year from next month. And this, while welcome, is not enough.

“Even with this help thousands of people are still facing the very real prospect of losing their homes because they are struggling to manage. The devastating effect this is having can be clearly seen in the testimonies of people who so kindly shared their personal experience with The Commission.

“We once again need to see the strong, decisive leadership from the Government we did during ‘Everyone In’, backed by resources and funding. 

“But this time the focus must be two pronged. It is no longer just about getting people off the streets, it is about ensuring people who are currently at risk of homelessness don’t end up on them.

“Failure to act could see this become a homelessness as well as an economic crisis and the results could be catastrophic; with all the good achieved in reducing street homelessness since the pandemic lost, and any hope of the Government meeting its manifesto pledge to end rough sleeping by 2024 gone.”

The Kerslake Commission convened in March 2021 to examine the lessons from the public health emergency response to rough sleeping during the pandemic, and to understand how the significant progress made can be embedded in the longer term.

It has previously published two reports and will publish a further report in 2023.

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