Thursday, 28 August 2014

Homelessness figures rise by 14 per cent

The number of people accepted as homeless in England has soared by 14 per cent in the last year, government figures today reveal.

In the biggest rise in nine years, 48,510 households were accepted as homeless in 2011 compared with 42,390 in 2010 - according to the Communities and Local Government department.

Council acceptances in the last three months of 2011 increased 18 per cent on the same period in 2010.

London saw a huge rise of 36 per cent in the number of households accepted by authorities as homeless in 2011 compared to 2010.

The figures showed a 39 per cent increase from 1,620 to 2,450 households becoming homeless because of an end to their short hold tenancy. This equates to 19 per cent of all acceptances.

In 2011, almost one in five households became homeless due to an end to their short hold tenancy – this compares to one in ten in 2009.

Although homelessness as a result of repossessions rose from 300 in 2010 to 410 in 2011, this only accounted for 3 per cent of all acceptances.

It also showed that 47 per cent of all applications for help with homelessness were accepted by councils – an increase from 42 per cent in 2010, and the number of decisions made by councils increased by 10 per cent to 107,240 on those made in 2010.

The number of households in temporary accommodation was 48,920 up by 2 per cent on 31 December 2011 from the same date in 2010 with London accounting for just under three quarters of these households.

However, the number of households in bed and breakfast accommodation saw the most dramatic change: there was a 37 per cent rise from 2,310 households in 2010 to 3,170 in 2011. In London there was a 65 per cent increase in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation from the final quarter of 2011 compared to the same time the previous year.

The figures followed CLG statistics two weeks ago that showed a 23 per cent increase in rough sleeping.

Matt Harrison, interim chief executive of Homeless Link, said: ‘We believe a lack of affordable accommodation, rent inflation and housing benefit restrictions are fuelling homelessness and making it more difficult to help people once they become homeless. The private rental sector is key to solving homelessness but we need to ensure that this is affordable and accessible to everyone.’

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, said: ‘Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.’

Jack Dromey MP, Labour’s shadow housing minister, said he was writing to housing minister Grant Shapps demanding that he undertake an assessment of the government’s policies on homelessness.

‘It is an absolute tragedy that in 2012 so many families do not have a home they can call their own,’ he said.

‘The government’s economic policies are failing, leading to rising unemployment, increases in fuel bills and the biggest squeeze on family incomes in a generation. Combined with the government’s reckless changes to benefits, it was inevitable that homelessness would rise and that it will continue to rise.’

Mr Shapps said: ‘Today’s figures underline how the debt laden economy we inherited is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country. But despite this, homelessness remains lower than for 28 of the last 30 years - and is half the average rate seen under the previous government.’

He added that the government would ‘shortly be giving councils new powers to use suitable, quality homes in the private as well as social rented sector for those in the greatest need’.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Chris

    Is Shapps directly descended from Pilot or is it just his aspiration?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I often reflect on the irony of funding availability for homelessness and housing support services. During boom years, the fight for funding is easier. When people need it most, it's reduced.

    As opportunities for work decrease, as more people face the street as a place to sleep rough and as all of the secondary consequences associated with homlessness increase exponentially, plugs are pulled as budgets are put under increasing strain.

    Given the deficit I do not know what the answer is, but I do now that the most in need are the most harshly effected, notwithstanding how necessary the cuts are.

    In the 21st century, in the 6th largest economy in the world, all of this seems really Victorian.

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