Young homeless feel dismissed and ignored by local authorities, says new LSE report

Posted on: 27 March 2024

Young homeless people feel dismissed and ignored when they approach local authorities for help, according to a new report from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

The study, for New Horizon Youth Centre, a youth homelessness charity in Kings Cross, London, interviewed young homeless people aged 16-24, as well as housing leads from four London local authorities, government departments and the voluntary sector.

An estimated 135,800 young people aged 16-24 presented to councils as homeless, or at risk of homelessness in 2022/23, with over 20,000 of those young people presenting to councils for support in London alone. This represents a 5% increase nationally on 2021/22, and a 10% increase in London. The numbers of young people contacting their local authority when they are homeless or at risk of homelessness is only a fraction of the overall numbers, with estimates suggesting that 48% of all young people experiencing homelessness do not contact their local authority, or face barriers in doing so.

The report found there were several barriers experienced by young people when approaching a local authority for support and that having a charity advocate on their behalf was often crucial.

Barriers included a lack of clarity and communication from the local authority in what they could offer, and what young people were entitled to; not knowing where to go or how to access support; feeling dismissed by staff; being passed from person to person without receiving any support; having to repeat their story multiple times; and unrealistic evidence requirements.

These barriers led to young people feeling disillusioned with services, not getting the support they deserve and need, and seeking informal solutions to their homelessness.

The report also highlights the challenges facing young people as they turn 18 and they must learn to navigate adult services. This was described as a significant challenge for young people, who felt they still needed support tailored to their age.

Young people also reported that accommodation provision, such as hostels or shared accommodation, was often not gender- or age-appropriate.

The report says effective support is about more than just shelter. Support with emotional and mental wellbeing, and help with gaining qualifications and employment, is crucial to helping young people rebuild their lives. Young people highlighted the holistic services offered by New Horizon, that went beyond just housing support, as particularly beneficial.

Local authority housing leads reported that they are providing support in a hugely challenging environment. They are facing increased demand for services, with increasingly stretched budgets and lack of availability of suitable housing. The report recommends they must work with each other, and collaborate with the voluntary sector, to ensure resources are used most effectively.

Researchers uncovered best practice examples of where this is happening successfully and emphasised the importance of sharing these.

Recommendations include a pan-London centralised website for young people setting out rights and options available to them which would identify help available within each borough alongside voluntary support services.

Other recommendations emphasise that the government should also commit to a national strategy to end youth homelessness with a focus on specific allocations for new housing that meets the needs of young people.

Laura Lane, Policy Officer, LSE Housing and Communities, says:

This report is timely and shows the value to young homeless people of receiving appropriate support and feeling that people are ‘on their side’.


We hope that the report supports increased engagement and collaboration between local authorities and charities in order to tackle the increasing challenges of youth homelessness.

Phil Kerry, CEO of New Horizon Youth Centre, says:

At New Horizon Youth Centre we had our busiest ever day in January 2024 and the worrying spike in youth homelessness that we’ve seen across the UK shows no sign of stopping this year.


It is vital that the support offered by Local Authorities to young people experiencing homelessness is suitable, effective, and timely in ending their homelessness. However, many young people tell us this is not their experience.


We recognise the extreme pressures that all Councils authorities are under at the moment, especially in London and this makes it even more important that they work together alongside charities and the Government to implement the recommendations in this report, ensuring that young people affected by homelessness are not left behind.

“On Our Side”: Improving services for young people experiencing homelessness by Laura Lane, Ellie Benton and Ruby Russell is published today, Wednesday 27 March 2024.

Back to top

Keep in touch

Stay in touch with everything that's happening at NHYC.

Join our mailing list

Quick Exit