Homeless numbers rise 17 per cent

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The Independent Online

The number of homeless people in the UK has risen by 17%, according to the latest figures released today by the government.

The statistics, released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, measured the rate of homelessness between April and June this year.

A total of 11,820 applicants were accepted by local authorities as being legitimately homeless, in need of "homeless help" and therefore eligible to go on to a council house waiting list.

This figure is 17% higher than in the same quarter in 2010.

Homeless charities say the rise should act as a warning to the Government and have called for an end to cuts.

But Housing Minister Grant Shapps said that despite the recent rise, homelessness was still at a "historic" low level.

He said: "Whilst homelessness remains at a historic low, today's figures underline how the effects of the worst recession for a generation continue to deliver difficult times for households up and down the country.

"But anyone facing financial difficulty or the prospect of losing their own home is not alone. There is help available and everything will be done to help people avoid homelessness."

Meanwhile, new research published by homeless charity Crisis warns that the situation is set to get even worse.

The Homelessness Monitor: Tracking the Impacts of Policy and Economic Change in England, commissioned by Crisis and undertaken by Heriot-Watt University and the University of York, warns that after years of stable or falling levels of homelessness, 2010 marked the turning point when homelessness in all its forms started to rise again due to the economic downturn.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: "Today's official figures prove once again we now face a sustained increase in homelessness but, worryingly, this research predicts the worst is yet to come.

"The coalition Government is dismantling the buffers against poverty and unemployment that have traditionally kept a roof over vulnerable households' heads.

"Homelessness is rising and we fear cuts to housing benefit and housing budgets, alongside reforms in the Welfare Reform and Localism Bills will cause it to increase yet further."

She added: "We need the Government to change course now or risk returning us to the days of countless lives facing the debilitating effects of homelessness."