An individual is homeless if they have no safe accommodation available. All measures of homelessness have increased since 2010. In 2016, almost 76,000 homeless households in England were housed in temporary accommodation by local authorities (a 58% increase since 2010). The direct spending of local authorities on homelessness in 2016 exceeded £1 billion and is rising, and many local authorities now consider homelessness to be a risk to their financial sustainability. The leading reported cause of homelessness is the end of an assured tenancy in the private sector.

While statutory duties for the homeless are delivered by local authorities, the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Department) is the lead government department responsible for housing and homelessness policy. This study examines whether the Department is achieving value for money through the oversight of the resources it distributes to prevent and reduce homelessness. The Department is sponsoring the Homelessness Reduction Bill, which will increase the statutory duties for local authorities.

Our work follows our Housing in England: overview, and complements our work looking at service sustainability and welfare reform.

If you would like to provide evidence for our study please email the study team on enquiries@nao.gsi.gov.uk, putting the study title in the subject line. The team will consider the evidence you provide; however, please note that due to the volume of information we receive we may not respond to you directly. If you need to raise a concern please use our contact form.