The number of households declared homeless so far this year is up by 13 per cent from the same period last year, according to Government figures out today (9 December).
According to an analysis carries out by Homeless Link, the umbrella group for over 500 charities, 35,680 households have been accepted as homeless by local authorities since the start of 2011 and the numbers of people placed in bread and breakfact accomodation has risen by 30 per cent to 9,240 compared with the same period last year.
Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy for Homeless Link, said: "As a result of the recession, cuts and the high cost of living, the number of homeless people continues to rise. Especially alarming is the jump in number of people becoming homeless because they have had to leave their privately rented homes. We are concerned that this trend will accelerate as the government's changes to housing benefit bite."
"Becoming homeless shouldn't be inevitable if you lose your job, can't afford your rent or fall into difficulty. Urgent action is needed to keep more people in their homes."
Commenting on the figures, Shelter’s Chief Executive Campbell Robb said: "It is heartbreaking to think that so many families will be facing Christmas without a home to call their own. But the greatest tragedy is that year-to-date figures are 13 per cent higher than they were at this time last year.
"With someone facing losing their home every two minutes, the reality is this is a fate that could happen to any one of us. All it takes is one small thing, such as an illness or financial trouble, and things can soon spiral out of control."
He concluded, "And with rising unemployment, increases in fuel bills and a continued squeeze on living costs, the picture is unlikely to improve any time soon.
Although Housing Minister Grant Shapps has emphasised that "statutory homelessness remains lower than in 28 of the last 30 years", his Shadow, Jack Dromey, said "There has been a six per cent rise this quarter on last year, which shows this is part of a sustained trend with homelessness rising three quarters in a row. This is yet more evidence that the government's housing policies are out of touch with what is really happening to people."