Local authority spending on homelessness: understanding recent trends and their impact

Published: April 2019


This report examines the impact that cuts to local authority funding in England have had on homelessness services on the ground. Between 2008/9 and 2017/19, £5bn less has been spent on homelessness than would have been had funding been maintained at 2008/9 levels – and all of this reduction has been from services that primarily tackle single homelessness. Alongside this reduction in funding has been an increase across all types of homelessness, with particularly stark increases in numbers of people sleeping rough since 2010.

With funding stretched, many local authorities have had to reduce services for people with low- or medium-level need that can help someone to maintain a tenancy. This has meant that preventative work has taken a back seat, while local authorities and other groups working to tackle homelessness are supporting people with increasingly complex needs.

WPI Economics analysed local authority expenditure data and homelessness statistics and carried out qualitative research with stakeholders across local government and the third sector to inform the report. We then developed recommendations based on three principles for a future system of funding: funding should be sufficient, certain, and directed to ensure it effectively and sustainably reduces homelessness.

Read the full report here.