Figures reveal councils face increased requests from homeless
Rise in number of homeless people asking councils for help
Some of England’s largest councils have seen huge jumps in the number of homeless people asking them for help.
The official figures, due to be released next week, have been obtained in advance by Inside Housing through Freedom of Information requests. Thirty-seven councils of the 51 which provided information for both 2009/10 and 2010/11 reported rises in homelessness. They had made an average of 40 per cent more homelessness decisions in the last financial year and granted 25 per cent more applications.
They include England’s largest council landlord, Birmingham, which saw the number of decisions it made following homelessness applications rocket by 66 per cent from 5,123 in 2009/10 to 8,499 in 2010/11. The number of successful applicants jumped by 25 per cent from 3,371 to 4,207.
Bexley Council reported the biggest percentage increase. It saw a 99 per cent jump in decisions - from 265 to 528 - and a 62 per cent increase in people declared homeless. Manchester Council also saw a virtual doubling of its figures, making 96 per cent more decisions - from 1,273 to 2,504.
The figures will make depressing reading for housing minister Grant Shapps, who made tackling homelessness the main focus of his campaigning while shadow housing minister.
But Glyn Hall, head of housing at Durham Council, which had 264 successful homelessness applications in 2009/10 and 384 in 2010/11 said the current rise was partly the result of a delayed reaction to the recession. ‘There’s a time lag where folk were made redundant and maybe had insurance or some savings and when that runs out they are coming to us,’ he said.
A spokesperson for the Communities and Local Government department said it would help by giving ‘local authorities far greater flexibility in delivering services… including the flexibility to discharge their homelessness duty with a reasonable offer of private rented housing’.