Over 100 councils will attend an emergency summit taking place on Tuesday 31 October to discuss the escalating social and financial crisis created by the unprecedented demand for temporary accommodation.

Hosted by Eastbourne Borough Council and the District Councils’ Network, this summit aims to share insight from the councils attending and will result in a joint cross-party letter to the government ahead of the Autumn Statement urging immediate action.

Councillor Stephen Holt, Leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said:

“The situation is stark.

“Councils provide a safety net for the most vulnerable people who need our help, and that safety net is at real risk of failing. 

“Figures from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have shown that the cost of temporary accommodation to local authorities reached 1.7bn last year and is increasing rapidly. This is wholly unsustainable for councils, and the situation is now critical.”

The summit will explore solutions from the government, including: 

  • Increase Local Housing Allowance rates for private rented accommodation 
  • Develop policy to stimulate retention and supply in the privately rented sector 
  • Review the housing benefit subsidy rate for local authority homelessness placements 
  • Give district councils the powers, funding, and resources needed to increase the supply of social housing
  • Increase the level of Discretionary Housing Payment and Homelessness Prevention Grant

The Minister for Local Government, Lee Rowley, has been invited to attend the summit.

Councillor Hannah Dalton, the District Councils’ Network spokesperson for health, housing and hardship, said:

“Across the country, we are experiencing a spiralling tide of need, driven by a severe shortage of social housing, the cost of living crisis, and an unstable and unaffordable private rented sector. This means as district councils, we are placing an unprecedented number of people in temporary accommodation, which is cripplingly expensive for councils and unsuitable for residents. 

“Districts are vital to preventing homelessness and providing resolution when our residents are faced with no alternative. Without urgent intervention, the very existence of this safety net is under threat.

“We are therefore calling on the government to act now and urgently adopt our five asks ahead of the Autumn Statement. While these alone will not end homelessness, they will go a long way in reducing the number of families in temporary accommodation and the series of challenges that come with this.”

The summit will take place remotely on Tuesday 31st October from 9.30am to 11am.

Any council leaders, housing portfolio holders or senior council officers wishing to attend the summit should email laura.walsh@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk.