Local authority spending on homelessness: 2020 update

This research by WPI Economics, on behalf of St Mungo’s and Homeless Link, shows that last year, councils in England spent nearly £1 billion less on services supporting single homeless people compared to a decade ago.

The research examines changes in local authority spending on homelessness over the past decade and the impact these changes have had on the ground. Our findings show that, despite a number of funding announcements from central government, local authority spending on homelessness-related services has reduced significantly compared to ten years ago. In 2008/9, £2.9 billion (in current prices) was spent on homelessness-related activity, while in 2018/19, £0.7 billion less was spent.

Single people and couples without children are the least likely to have a legal right to be housed by their council and so are the most likely to end up sleeping on the streets. Support for this group is crucial to help them find and keep accommodation, and cope with the complex problems that may be contributing to their homelessness, including poor mental health, substance use and domestic abuse. However, funding cuts have fallen particularly hard on these services and councils spent nearly £1 billion less in 2018/19 on support for single homeless people compared to 2008/9.

Our Home for Good campaign is calling on the government to invest an extra £1 billion on services that prevent homelessness and end rough sleeping, and ring-fence the money so it can’t be spent on anything else.