Last Wednesday, The House of St Barnabas hosted a London Ventures event in their beautiful chapel in Soho. They are a London charity that strives to help homeless people get back into work. We talked about our four proposed solutions to tackling one of London’s biggest issues: temporary accommodation, homelessness and the housing crisis.
Neil Sartorio, EY’s Local Public Services Partner, opened the event by highlighting the increasing challenges that local authorities face around homelessness. In March this year, there were over 77,000 households in temporary accommodation in England – a 60% increase since March 2011 – with 70% of the total being in London. In 2014/15, this cost the public purse about £663m.
Neil explored how despite the UK being the world’s fifth largest economy and at full employment, it is a “land of unequal opportunity”. He reflected that there is huge inequality and that we are not providing all our people with an emotional and practical essential: a roof over their head.
Ceri Sheppard, The House of St Barnabas Employment Academy Director, spoke about the incredible work that they do and Thomas, one of the Academy’s graduates, kindly shared with us his experience of homelessness and the lasting positive impact that The House has had on his life. He reiterated Neil’s point around a home being much more than just shelter – “it provides comfort, security, dignity…it provides you with a place to be vulnerable, away from the world and to feel safe.”
The London Ventures team then shared our four proposed solutions:
Early identification of those at risk of homelessness
This solution uses predictive analytics to identify individuals and households most at risk of entering homelessness. It enables councils to target earlier intervention and prevention, reducing the demand for high cost housing services.
Modular temporary accommodation on non-permanent sites
Develop modular units to be procured on a pan-London basis for use as affordable temporary accommodation. Units can be placed on non-permanent sites and re-located as necessary, responding to peaks in demand and land availability across boroughs.
Transition insurance to reduce the upfront costs of living in the private rented sector
An insurance scheme that removes the need to fund multiple rental deposits whilst transitioning between properties. This solution enables individuals to remain in the private rented sector and reduces the likelihood of entering homelessness.
London-wide accommodation platform
Pan-London platform for local authority use listing all properties available for both emergency and non-emergency temporary accommodation. This solution increases visibility of options available and enables placements to be made faster.
Attendees asked questions and provided some excellent challenge, helping us shape our proposed solutions.