Barking and Dagenham Council joins £38m scheme to house families at risk of homelessness

Eleven London councils have joined forces to create a non-profit company to house thousands of famil

Eleven London councils have joined forces to create a non-profit company to house thousands of families at risk of homelessness. Photo: PA Wire/PA Images/Yui Mok - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Barking and Dagenham Council is among 11 boroughs which have joined forces to provide accommodation to families at risk of homelessness – backed by £38m in government funding.

The scheme – named Capital Letters – will see local authorities create a non-profit company to help more than 35,000 households in Greater London out of homelessness over the next three years.

It aims to encourage local authorities to work together in housing those at risk of homelessness, rather than competing to secure the best accomodation for their own homeless residents.

Competition can drive up prices and slow down housing provision.

Barking and Dagenham Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell, who is also London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, said: “With so many homeless households and so little accommodation available, London faces the country’s most serious homelessness challenge.

“Capital Letters is a crucial opportunity to do things differently – and we are extremely pleased to have the government’s support for this innovative work.

“Through collaboration, boroughs will collectively strengthen our market position and secure much better housing options for homeless Londoners.”

More than 6,500 people are homeless in Barking and Dagenham making it the fifth worst borough for homelessness in the UK, according to figures released by charity Shelter in November last year.

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Other boroughs who have so far signed up to the scheme include Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Bexley and Waltham Forest.

More local authorities are expected to join in due course.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governmnet (MHCLG) is allocating £37.8m – out of its £1.2bn fund to tackle homelessness – to the scheme over three years.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP said: “Everyone deserves a safe and secure home.

“I’ve seen for myself how hard each of the London boroughs works to provide those that are homeless with the support they need and a roof over their heads.

“This radical new way of working and unprecedented collaboration between the boroughs and government will make a real difference – providing more accommodation for the vulnerable and helping them to get back on their feet and away from homelessness for good.”