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No more ‘us & them’: opportunities for collaboration on temporary accommodation

No more 'us & them': a brief analysis of opportunities for cross-sector collaboration around Temporary Accommodation is an in-depth piece of research, commissioned by charities advocating for Londoners in TA as part of our Better TA initiative. It reviews how the voluntary sector and local government are working together to support and advocate for people in TA, and makes recommendations for how this can be strengthened.

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Temporary Accommodation (TA) in London is in crisis. 1 in 50 Londoners is now homeless and living in TA. Local authorities can't find homes to meet their statutory duties and the number of families living in hotels and B&Bs is growing. No one believes the current situation is acceptable, so what opportunities are there to improve it?

Through desktop research, surveys and interviews with senior local authority staff and elected Members, the report presents key findings and recommendations for better cross-sector collaboration around temporary accommodation.

Alongside the report, you can explore policy fact sheets for the boroughs covered* in the research at the bottom of this page, with full recommendations across all councils.

Key findings

  1. Working beyond policy: There is an overall feeling across boroughs and partners that central government needs to act to intervene in the housing crisis, specifically by controlling rents, increasing Local Housing Allowance, and stronger penalties for landlords.
  2. Every borough does TA differently: London boroughs vary widely in their approaches to TA, resulting in inconsistent policies and structures, and a variation in how boroughs engage with statutory and community partners.
  3. Is it really 'us vs them?': Despite recognising the importance of collaboration, tensions between councils and community groups create an "us vs them" dynamic, which can create defensiveness and prevent meaningful collaboration on TA.
  4. Knowledge gaps: Knowledge gaps exist among councils and community organisations regarding legal literacy, local democracy, local content and big picture issues, which can lead to community organisations feeling 'shut out' by the council, and to the possibility that inaccurate advice may be given to thoseat risk of homelessness.
  5. Invisbility of protected characteristics: Positive steps are seen in considering protected characteristics in homelessness strategies, but councils find it challenging to meaningfully consider protected characteristics due to property shortages.
  6. Positive practice: Though there is little to celebrate about TA in the current context, the report highlights examples of positive cross-sector collaboration in Newham, Westminster and Lambeth.

Key recommendations

  1. Support for households in TA: Community organisations are well-positioned to support households with specific requirements around language, culture and religion, and to share information that LAs might not be aware of.
  2. Civic participation is a lever for change: Community organisations are often absent from local democratic processes, but can impact policies related to TA by actively participating in forums and meetings, building relationships with elected officials, and sharing insights with senior leaders.
  3. Building power through collective voice: TA affects each borough differently, but the issues at the heart of the crisis are pan-London and national. Community organisations can strengthen their impact by collaborating, such as in cross-sector partnerships to collectively advocate for change.
  4. Working with tension: Councils and VCS organisations have different roles, powers and permissions, which can create tension and frustration. Working with this tension, rather than ignoring it, can lead to more effective collaboration on TA - such as hosting listening sessions and creating opportunities for open dialogue.
  5. Learning together: TA is a complex and highly-pressurised area to work in. Enabling all staff, regardless of organisation or sector, to participate in training and other learning opportunities is an opportunity to strengthen partnership working and tackle burnout.
  6. Resourcing and capacity: Resources to support those experiencing homelessness are insufficient to meet current pressures, meaning councils and community organisations should explore creative solutions, such as refocusing grants, collaborative funding initiatives, and maximizing income generation opportunities.
  7. Discrimination and inequality: Councils and community organisations can work together to address key issues such as hate crime and community tensions, unequal access to services and disproportionate risks of homelessness. They can also work together to develop working practices around TA that are anti-racist, trauma-informed and accessible.

*Boroughs covered: Barking and Dagenham**, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Wandsworth, Westminster

**Barking and Dagenham contributed to the report, but there is no policy factsheet for the borough.

Policy factsheets


Download the full report

A brief analysis of opportunities for cross-sector collaboration around Temporary Accommodation

22 January 2024

No More ‘Us & Them’: A brief analysis of opportunities for cross-sector collaboration around Temporary Accommodation

About the researchers

Gill Taylor

Gill is a freelance consultant who has extensive experience working in the public and voluntary sectors activating systems change & transformation in the fields of homelessness, migration & resettlement, safeguarding, commissioning, community partnerships and anti-oppressive practice.

Rebecca Towers

Rebecca is a freelance consultant who has extensive experience of working for Local Authorities and the third sector. Rebecca’s priorities include civic participation, public sector reform, relational service delivery, system change and tackling inequality.