Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Gatekeeping casts doubts on homelessness data

Crisis has questioned government figures indicating homelessness applications are down, suggesting councils may be keeping numbers artificially low.

Homelessness figures released last week cover the period from July to September 2009. They indicate a 24 per cent fall in the number of people making applications to their local council for help with homelessness and a 28 per cent fall in the number of applications accepted by councils, compared with the same period in 2008.

However, research by Crisis indicates that some councils are ‘gatekeeping’ - preventing people approaching them for help making an application, so artificially keeping the number of applications down.

In an undercover investigation, Crisis mystery shoppers posed as people asking for help with homelessness and made 45 visits to councils to test their responses. The results were published in their No one’s priority report.

In at least 13 instances the mystery shopper did not even get to talk to a housing officer, being turned away by a receptionist and told that they were ‘not a priority’. In only nine instances was the shopper given the opportunity to make a homelessness application or did it appear that they eventually might have been.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said the research threw the reliability of the government figures into doubt.

‘We found widespread gatekeeping in our sample, meaning numbers of applications were kept low, but homeless people were not given the help they needed,’ she said.

Ms Morphy added: ‘Particularly during these tough economic times, councils must be helping all those who approach them, rather than hiding behind legal distinctions.’

According to the law and government guidance, everyone who is officially recognised as homeless is entitled, at a minimum, to advice and assistance from their local council to prevent and resolve their homelessness.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Joe Halewood

    At last we have some substantive evidencce of gatekeeping, yet the fact it takes an undercover 'mystery shopping' exercise to highlight this is quite offensive.

    Anyone thats involved in any way with homelessness knows that gatekeeping is endemic and that all the official views on its figures (and claimed reductions) are deeply flawed and unreliable.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I was homeless for a time in Watford. Filled out the housing application form stating this. But for some strange reason, Watford council don't class having nowhere to go and no roof over your head as homeless. Never did figure out what is classed as "homeless" in Watford.

    Band C on their choice based lettings website is among other things the homeless catagory. But for some strange reason, if you're homeless, you go into Band E!!!

    The mose useless council in Britain

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • We have been living in a single room in a B&B (breakfast we actually do not get) for the last 20 months thanks to our incompetent council! When we first approached out Local Authority (my partner had knee surgery and needed ground floor accommodation) they told us we were not a priority and we would have to wait, which was fair enough and we started looking for alternative accommodation. Soon after my partner-suffered stroke, that is when the Council turned us away time after time. Even when my partner was discharged from hospital, he had to do stairs on his backside in a communal entrance whilst awaiting heart surgery and still the Council did nothing! Only after 6 months, someone on the off chance in another borough mentioned the Homeless Persons Unit to us, we then approached our Council and were kept for 8 hours while they faffed about! They did exactly what Birmingham Council done, ignoring the fact that people are homeless at home and are in breech of their duty. When are people going to realize that Councils do not have homeless people, only people with housing needs….the fake it up so they can get their beacons and bask in the lime light while people suffer!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

sign in register

Related

Articles

  • Homeless people shut out

    30/05/2014

    Do homeless people always receive the help they are entitled to when they approach councils? Heather Spurr investigates

  • Turning homeless away?

    18 March 2014

    Are homelessness ‘housing options’ allowing Scottish councils to turn vulnerable people away, asks Heather Spurr

  • Back of the queue for single homeless people

    16 October 2014

    A new report by Crisis has shown that opportunities to help single homeless people are being missed. Heather Spurr reports on the findings

  • Speaking to be heard

    15/08/2014

    Associations have long expressed concerns about the impact of universal credit on vulnerable tenants…

  • Visions and promises

    29 September 2014

Resources

  • The prefab way

    28/02/2014

    Hammersmith & Fulham Council is erecting pre-fabricated homes and Brighton has turned to shipping containers, Lydia Stockdale reports

  • Bringing a post office back into the community

    07/03/2014

    Much to the delight of the local people, Scottish Borders Housing Association has opened a Post Office at its headquarters in Bannerfield, the first ever branch outside a retail unit. Maria Brett reports on the initiative

  • A light in the dark

    04/07/2014

    The Lighthouse Project in Wales provides support to those most in need. Reni Eddo-Lodge finds out more

  • A career fix

    19 June 2014

    Apprenticeships provided by construction firms are helping students straight out of school into employment. Stuart Spear takes a closer look at the opportunities available

  • Express yourself

    06/12/2013

    A research study in Merseyside aims to prove that artistic therapy can help people with Alzheimer’s and their families cope better with the disease. Ciara Leeming investigates

IH Subscription

- IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT -

 

From Thursday 23 October 2014 you will need to sign into www.insidehousing.co.uk using your email address rather than your username.

If you are unsure which email address is linked to your account, please Click Here. Your password will remain the same.

If you have a print subscription we need to ensure that we have the correct details in order to link your subscription to your online account, for more information Click Here.

Click here to close window