Poverty and Inequality

08.11.17

Homeless ‘tragedy’ emerging as more than 300,000 people on the streets

The number of homeless people in Britain has increased by 13,000 in just one year, a report by Shelter has shown.

The report, ‘Far from alone: Homelessness in Britain in 2017,’ is an extensive review of issues across the county.

The charity analysed official rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation and social services figures, and believes that the number of homeless people in Britain stands at over 300,000.

In England around one in every 200 people is homeless – with the worst hit Borough of Newham seeing one in 25 people on the streets.

Polly Neate, Shelter’s chief executive, said: “It’s shocking to think that today, more than 300,000 people in Britain are waking up homeless.

“Some will have spent the night shivering on a cold pavement, others crammed into a dingy, hostel room with their children.

“And what is worse, many are simply unaccounted for.”

The report has attributed the difficulties faced in trying to escape homelessness to a lack of affordable homes, and welfare reforms, such as Universal Credit and the freeze on housing benefit.

The charity warns that over a third of those living in temporary accommodation in England will still be homeless in a year’s time.

Responding to the report, Councillor Martin Tett housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Every individual instance of homelessness is a tragedy.

“Councils are doing all they can to help homeless people in their communities and prevent homelessness happening in the first place.

“Homelessness is spreading across the whole country and causing a huge challenge for councils, which are having to house the equivalent of an extra secondary school’s worth of homeless children in temporary accommodation every month.

“The net cost for councils of funding temporary accommodation has tripled in the last three years, which is disruptive for families and unsustainable for councils.

“Councils need more resources from government to help tackle homelessness - the upcoming Autumn Budget is an opportunity to take steps to adapt welfare reforms to ensure housing remains affordable for low-income families, and allow councils to borrow to invest in building genuinely affordable homes once more.”

Top image: Jonathan Brady PA Archive

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