Number of homeless households in England rises sharply

 

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The Independent Online

The number of homeless households in England has risen sharply over the last year, official figures revealed today.

In the last year 50,290 households were accepted as homeless by their local councils, a rise of 14 per cent since 2010/11.

The number of households forced to live in bed and breakfast style accommodation rose by 44 per cent to 3,960 compared to 2,750 the previous year.

Worryingly, 480 of households with children had been living in bed and breakfast accommodation for more than six weeks Government rules state that pregnant women or families with children should not be allocated to B&Bs, “except in emergencies and then for no longer than six weeks”.

The figures show that number of families with children in bed and breakfasts has now tripled since the Coalition came to power, rising from 160 in June 2010.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) of the homeless households had lost their previous home when an assured shorthold tenancy came in an end - up from 15 per cent the previous year. Another 17 per cent of cases had become homeless after a relationship broke down, with 68 per cent of these cases involving violence.

A further three per cent had had their previous home repossessed because of mortgage arrears, the same proportion as in 2010/11.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter said: “These shocking figures show that yet again homelessness is rising. Behind the numbers are ordinary families who have lost the battle that so many are fighting to stay in their homes.

“With high unemployment, cuts to the housing safety net and the rising cost of living all taking their toll, there’s a real concern that thousands more families will face the same nightmare in the coming months and years.”

Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of the charity Homeless Link, warned that homelessness services were “dangerously close to the wire”.

He said: “These statistics are worrying and it’s easy to see why – demand for homelessness services is rising while provision is decreasing.

“We may be starting to see the impact of welfare reform, as the number of people having their tenancies ended has increased by almost half. Meanwhile hostels and other services are slipping dangerously close to the wire, trying to provide services to more people with fewer resources.

“We have now seen a steady increase in homelessness over the last two years. It is clear that if we don’t act now this problem is only going to get bigger and more expensive for everyone.”

Local councils are required to provide housing for people who are “statutory homeless”. In England, only people who are eligible for public funds, have a connection to the local area, can prove they are “unintentionally homeless”, and are in ‘priority need' will qualify. Households in priority need include those with dependent children, pregnant women or vulnerable adults.

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