Homelessness figures must not be reduced by a “gatekeeping” approach that discourages people from applying for housing assistance, councils have been warned.
In a letter to councils, housing minister Yvette Cooper said she was particularly concerned by reports of households being told to remain in properties when they had received a notice to quit, on the basis they could not be helped until they were actually evicted.
She said authorities should take preventive action, such as negotiating with landlords or helping people to find alternative housing before homelessness occurred.
Cooper said a new homelessness code of guidance, to be published shortly, would provide clear statutory guidance on how authorities should carry out their functions.
Umbrella group Homeless Link welcomed the letter. Its director of policy, Dominic Williamson, said: “Our members have been telling us that some local authorities have created additional barriers to stop people applying as homeless – sometimes in the name of ‘prevention’.”