Homeless statistics – the sector responds

The sector responds to the latest DCLG homelessness statistics for England.

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Statistics released today by the Department for Communities and Local Government have revealed that:

  • Between 1 January and 31 March 2017 local authorities accepted 14,600 households as being statutorily homeless, up 1% on the previous quarter and down 1% on the same quarter last year
  • The total number of households in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2017 was 77,240, up 8% on a year earlier, and up 61% on the low of 48,010 on 31 December 2010
  • There were 6,590 households living in bed and breakfast (B&B) accommodation, an increase of 11% from 5,960 as at 31 March 2016. Of these 3,010 (46%) had dependent or expected children
  • Of the 77,240 households in temporary accommodation on 31 March 2017, 21,950 (28%) were in accommodation in another local authority district. This is an increase of 10%, from 19,880 at the same date last year (28% of the total). Of the 21,950 accommodated in another local authority district, 19,670 were from London authorities (90% of the England total).

CIH policy and practice officer Faye Greaves:

Today’s figures are extremely worrying but sadly not surprising – homelessness has been steadily rising in all its forms since 2010, partly because of the pressures on the housing market but also some of the welfare changes that have come into force over the past few years.

We are particularly concerned about the continuing rise in the numbers of households in temporary accommodation, which has soared by a staggering 61% since December 2010.

The number of households trapped in bed and breakfast accommodation has also risen, and includes thousands of families with children. This type of accommodation is often very poor quality and highly unsuitable, especially for families.

There has also been a jump in the number of households placed outside their local authority district, which may be down to the increasing cost of housing, especially in London.

This issue has been in the spotlight over the past week following the horrendous events at Grenfell Tower. The cost of housing can make it difficult for local authorities to find a home for people in the same area, but councils must do everything they can to avoid moving people away from their communities and support networks – in any situation.

The government must ensure that councils have the resources they need to deliver their new obligations.

History tells us that we can reduce or even eliminate homelessness but it does require a co-ordinated approach – that means government investment, funding for affordable housing and a concerted effort across the housing and homelessness sectors.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis:

More and more homeless people are finding themselves stuck in temporary accommodation with no way of planning for the future. Not only is this distressing for those involved, it’s also incredibly expensive for the taxpayer, when for a fraction of this cost we could be preventing people from losing their home in the first place.

Welfare reforms and a desperate shortage of affordable rented homes are making it harder for councils to house homeless people. Our research shows that nearly two thirds of English councils are struggling to find social tenancies for homeless people, while half are finding it ‘very difficult’ to help homeless people into private renting.

We desperately need more truly affordable homes for rent, as well as housing benefit that genuinely covers the cost of renting. At the same time, we’re calling on the government to invest in schemes that support people into private renting, including creating and underwriting a national rent deposit guarantee. The government already pours billions into ‘Help to Buy’. What we really need is ‘Help to Rent’.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron:

In 2017 no-one should be homeless, living in a Bed and Breakfast or worrying whether they will have a roof over their head from one month to the next.  This is a national scandal and the government are doing nothing to actually tackle the problem.

We need more houses built and they need to be the right kind of housies – social housing, truly affordable housing, and social rented properties.

Britain is one of the richest places on earth, it is a stain on our nation’s conscience that thousands of people are still sleeping rough on the streets every night.

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