How often do councils relocate homeless families far away from their local area?

Eir NolsoeData Journalist
December 24, 2020, 10:11 AM UTC

One in three councillors also report an increase in households becoming homeless during the pandemic

A new YouGov survey of 549 councillors shows that nearly a fifth say that when someone becomes homeless their council very (6%) or fairly (12%) often relocates them far away from their local area.

The practice is controversial as homelessness guidance says residents should stay in their home neighbourhoods unless in exceptional circumstances.

Only a fifth of councillors (21%) say they never relocate households far from their local area, while another three in ten (29%) say it’s rare but does happen. A third are uncertain (32%).

Three quarters of councillors (76%) say their council very (38%) or fairly (38%) frequently relocates homeless households in their local area. A third also say relocating households to neighbouring areas is very (8%) or fairly (24%) common.

A third of councillors report increase in homeless households during pandemic

The survey also shows that a third of councillors (34%) say their local councils have seen an increase in people becoming homeless during the coronavirus crisis. A quarter (27%) say there has been no change, while one in six (16%) say the number has gone down.

There’s a big disparity between Labour and Conservative councillors. About half of Labour councillors (48%) say homelessness has increased in their area, while only one in ten (10%) say it has fallen. In contrast, a quarter of Conservative councillors (25%) report an increase, while a similar number say they’ve seen a decrease (22%).

Meanwhile, just over two in five councillors (43%) say rough sleeping fell in their area during the pandemic. The government invested £3.2m in rehousing people during the crisis to limit the spread of coronavirus, with housing secretary Robert Jenrick claiming 90% of rough sleepers were moved off the street. But two in five councillors say rough sleeping in their area has either stayed the same (22%) or increased (21%) since March.

Labour councillors are more likely to report that their council has seen a rise in rough sleeping. Three in ten (31%) saying it went up, while just over a third (36%) have seen a decline. In comparison, only one in nine Conservative councillors (11%) say it went up in their area, while half (50%) report a decrease.

See the full results here