Homelessness and B&B figures shoot up
Homelessness applications have jumped up 16 per from last year and use of bed and breakfast has risen by 44 per cent.
Communities and Local Government figures released today show 13,130 people were accepted as homeless between January and March this year compared with 11,350 in the same quarter last year.
The number of households in B&B accommodation has risen from 2,750 on 31 March last year to 3,960 this year. Housing minister Grant Shapps recently wrote to 20 councils warning them not to house families for six weeks or more in B&B accommodation.
Umbrella group Homeless Link has also today released figures from its Homeless UK database – with detailed information from 9,000 services – which indicates 4,000 bed spaces in accommodation for homeless people have been lost since January 2010. The greatest loss of bed spaces was in the last six months of 1,686 (from 41,449 in November 2011 to 39,763 this May).
It also found 62 per cent of local authorities had no direct access to hostels. Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link, said: ‘We are calling on every local authority to make sure they are providing emergency accommodation to meet this rise in demand.’
The number of households accepted by local authorities as homeless has been going up since part way through 2010. There was an increase from 44,160 homeless households in 2010/11 to 50,290 in 2011/ 12.
Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy at charity for single homeless people Crisis, called for a ‘housing policy revolution’. ‘We are building just a tiny fraction of the new homes we need while government cuts to housing benefit are hitting households across the country making it harder to rehouse those who are already homeless,’ he said.
London Councils’ executive member for housing, Sir Steve Bullock, blamed the benefit changes. ‘After years of falls in homelessness this worrying rise is an indirect result of the changes in the housing benefit system,’ he said.
Youth homelessness charity Depaul UK urged local authorities to talk to it to develop or provide more emergency housing schemes. Campbell Robb, chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, said: ‘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.’
Housing minister Grant Shapps also announced today £3.4 million will go to the national homelessness advice service – which gives agencies specialist advice and support – via Shelter and Citizens Advice.
It is part of the £400 million the government set out in the October 2010 comprehensive spending review for helping those at risk from homelessness. ‘Today’s cash boost is vital to ensure that when people ask for help, the practical advice and expertise is there,’ Mr Shapps said.