Havering Council will get an extra £378,000 from the Government to help homeless families – but says the top-up will still not be enough to keep up with demand. 

Cllr Paul McGeary, the council's cabinet member for housing, said housing staff were experiencing “unprecedented pressure”. 

The new funding was announced one week after the council said a “London-wide housing crisis” was forcing it to house families in budget hotel rooms. 

Government has given £50 million to councils to top up their Homelessness Prevention Grants amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis.  

Havering’s extra £378,123 was to top-up its £2.3 million grant for 2022/23. 

But, said Cllr McGeary, “We are still going to be short of funds.” 

“These funds will help us to deliver on our prevention of homelessness agenda,” he said. 

“However, due to a greater demand at our front door and an ever-increasing number of people coming to us with complex needs, we are still concerned that the service is facing unprecedented pressure during the rising cost-of-living crisis.” 

In October, requests for help with homelessness in Havering were up 59% on three years earlier – the last pre-pandemic year. 

With inflation at 11%, even keeping Havering’s grant the same next year would amount to a substantial cut. 

But the council told the Recorder that it was consulted earlier this year over a possible cut to its Homelessness Prevention Grant of up to 26%. 

“Central government need to increase the level of funding to meet these demands on a hard-working local service,” said Cllr McGeary. 

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said: “Havering has received over £2.5 million through the Homelessness Prevention Grant this financial year, including an additional £378,123 winter top-up to prevent evictions and ensure families have a roof over their heads.” 

Cllr McGeary said the extra cash could not prevent evictions. 

“It will provide accommodation for people if they are evicted,” he said. 

He also called on Westminster to increase Havering’s Local Housing Allowance (LHA) - the maximum rent the council can pay for homeless families. 

In October, housing boss Patrick Odling-Smee said rents were outstripping the LHA, making it hard to rehouse families and increasing reliance on hotel and B&B accommodation. 

Cllr McGeary urged government to “review the challenge of the private sector market and the LHA to help councils provide for families who may not have a home for the Christmas period.” 

Asked about Havering Council's calls to up the prevention grant and LHA, a DLUHC spokesperson said: “We remain focused on supporting households during this time. 

"We are currently considering responses to the recent consultation, and will continue to work with councils to ensure the most vulnerable are supported.” 

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