19 December 2019

The number of households considered newly homeless or at risk of becoming so has increased by 11.4% across England in the past year, according to government figures, a rise of almost 7,000 households.

Between April and June 2019, 68,170 households were initially assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness. Of those, 32,220 households were deemed to be homeless – an increase of 23% on the same time period last year.

The number of households living in temporary accommodation at hostels, bed and breakfasts, hotels and elsewhere was already at its highest level since 2007, and rose by 1,500 to 86,130.

On 30 June 2019, there were 7,000 more households assessed as homeless or threatened with homelessness than a year earlier

Almost 130,000 children dependent on their parents and carers live in temporary accommodation, across more than 60,000 of the households without permanent homes. More than 7,000 of these are in bed and breakfasts, up 3.2% from the same time last year.

At the end of June 2019, there were 13,450 households in temporary accommodation with shared facilities, widely considered the worst type of housing. This has increased by 40% in five years.

More than a quarter of these households have been accommodated in different local authority areas, with a large majority of these out-of-district placements from London councils.

The number of homeless households placed in a different council area has increased by 62% in five years and local authorities have been criticised for effectively forcing people away from their families and support networks.

The number of households in temporary accommodation was 86,130 in June, a rise of 1,500 in three months

In London, a handful of councils have used legal powers aggressively to make “take or leave it” offers of private rented housing far away from the capital in efforts to permanently resettle hundreds of homeless families.

Shelter urged the government to address the “worsening” housing emergency and build social homes. The charity has estimated there are 280,000 homeless people in England, one out of every 200 people.

“This is an emergency that is tipping thousands of people into homelessness, forcing parents to raise children in grim B&Bs and uprooting families from their jobs, schools and loved ones,” said Polly Neate, the homelessness charity’s chief executive.

“Wildly expensive private rents, housing benefit cuts and decades of failure to build the social homes we need, are the reasons why 127,000 children in England will wake up homeless on Christmas Day. A figure everyone in Westminster should pay attention to.

She added: “Political promises about ending homelessness will mean nothing if we don’t have the homes for people to live in. To truly tackle this emergency, the government must invest in a new generation of social homes – and we will continue to campaign to make sure that happens.”

Crisis echoed the call on the government to take action. “The [Homelessness Reduction Act] is intended as a tool to prevent people from becoming homeless,” said Jon Sparkes, the housing charity’s chief executive.

“But councils have to be given the resources and ability to exercise this to its full potential and we need to see transformative measures taken, such as restoring housing benefit levels to cover the cost of true rent and an increase in social housing being built, or we risk seeing these numbers to continue to rise.”

During the election campaign, the Conservatives announced plans to fund measures to reduce rough sleeping. However, the party failed to commit to building social homes and their plans to tackle homelessness remain unclear.

The chancellor, Sajid Javid, was criticised this month for claiming Labour was behind the rise in homelessness in the UK. The Tories said in a statement that Javid “misremembered the years”.

In the report, the Ministry of Housing’s statisticians said increases had been expected due to large improvements in data coverage and response rate.

“More people are getting the support they need to start rebuilding their lives – backed by £1.2bn in funding to reduce all forms of homelessness and rough sleeping, the duty we’ve placed on councils to provide vital help to those who need it, and our commitment to building the homes this country needs,” the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said.

“But there is more we can do – which is why we committed in our manifesto to more integrated working of local health and housing services and the renewal of the affordable homes programme, helping prevent people from falling into homelessness.”

Source: The Guardian