Designing Solutions to London’s Temporary Accommodation System (Briefing) - RSA

Designing Solutions to London’s Temporary Accommodation System (Briefing)


  • Economy
  • Poverty and inequality

This briefing provides an overview of the recent rise in the numbers of households in temporary accommodation in London, the recent policy history and the dynamics at play in this system in order to inform thinking about solutions.

Rising rents and insecure tenancies in the private rented sector are a growing cause of homelessness. At the same time homelessness policy has encouraged the use of the private rented sector both for temporary accommodation and more recently for finding settled accommodation to discharge councils’ main homelessness duty. Efforts to contain the costs of temporary accommodation through reducing the level of housing benefit available have been counterproductive. As councils have struggled to find affordable tenancies households are increasingly being placed out of their home area.

There is a danger of a vicious cycle emerging where rising rents are causing insecurity, the use of incentive payments for temporary accommodation causes knock on price inflation and households are discharged back into insecure tenancies which may not be sustainable in the long run.

The briefing covers some examples of recent responses London borough councils have implemented including setting up wholly owned Housing Companies to purchase or develop new build properties for households who would otherwise be in temporary accommodation. It offers some suggestions for thinking about how these might be built upon and opportunities for new interventions and coordinated action.

This briefing was prepared in advance of a day long workshop which convened stakeholders from the Department for Communities and Local Government, housing associations, civil society and social enterprise to explore how temporary accommodation is currently functioning, generate additional points of intervention and identify the actions that are required to transform the system, so that it is both affordable and supportive for families. The workshop was held on the 6th October 2016 at RSA House in London. 

Download the briefing: Designing solutions to London's temporary accommodation system (PDF, 3MB)


Picture of Benjamin Irvine
Research Intern