Responses to new statistics on homelessness in England

By agency reporter
March 23, 2018

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government released new statutory homelessness statistics for England on 22 March 2018.

The figures show that there are 78,930 households living in temporary accommodation across England, a four per cent rise since last year, and 49 per cent rise in the last five years.

Responding to the new statistics, Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive at the homelessness charity Crisis, said, “It's unacceptable that nearly 79,000 households across England are finding themselves homeless and with no choice but to live in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs and hostels.

"Temporary accommodation is often cramped, unsuitable, and sometimes even dangerous. It can have a devastating impact on people’s lives and mental health, and it's no place for anyone to call home. Worryingly, our research shows that the number of households in the worst forms of temporary accommodation is set to double by 2026 if nothing is done to address the problem.

"This can't go on. Temporary accommodation can be an important short-term measure, but when so many people are finding themselves stuck there it's clear that the government must invest more in schemes to prevent homelessness in the first place – and ultimately to end it once and for all."

Also responding to the statistics, Chartered Institute of Housing policy and practice officer Faye Greaves said, “The fact that so many people are homeless in England today is quite simply a national disgrace.

"While the number of households accepted as homeless has dropped slightly over the past year, today’s figures show that it has jumped by 45 per cent since the low of 2009. And the real picture is likely to be much worse – for everyone who goes to their council for help there are likely to be many more ‘hidden homeless’ people sofa surfing and sleeping on public transport for example.

“The number of households in temporary accommodation has soared by a staggering 64 per cent since the low of December 2010 – this is frankly unacceptable. It’s encouraging to see a 27 per cent drop in the number of families with children being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation, but there are still too many families trapped in this kind of accommodation, which is often very poor quality and highly unsuitable.

“Our national housing crisis combined with the welfare changes in recent years have created a toxic mix. The Homelessness Reduction Act, which comes into force in less than two weeks, has the potential to help councils do more to tackle homelessness – but only if the government makes sure they have enough resources to put it into practice effectively. And ultimately, if we really want to tackle this issue we need to start building more genuinely affordable homes. Our research has shown that government investment in building new homes has plummeted while spending on housing benefit has soared, and we have lost more than 150,000 homes for social rent between 2012 and 2017. Investment must be switched to bricks and mortar and we need to make sure we are building the right homes, in the right places, at the right prices.”

* The new statistics on homelessness are available here 

* Chartered Institute of Housing http://www.cih.org/

* Crisis https://www.crisis.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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