Latest Public Sector News

12.03.12

14% increase in homelessness in England

Homelessness has increased by 14% in the past year, with almost 500,000 households accepted as homeless as repossession rates and unemployment rise.

According to figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, this is the highest increase for nine years. Homelessness had previously been falling, but 48,510 households across England became homeless in 2011.

The number of rough sleepers has also increased by one-fifth. The highest number of homeless households is inBirmingham, but the highest rate is in Waltham Forest, London.

Charities have raised concerns about the increase, and the fact that temporary accommodation such as B&Bs, which have a six-week time limit, are being used more frequently to house families

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the charity Crisis, said: “Our worst fears are coming to pass. We face a perfect storm of economic downturn, rising joblessness and soaring demand for limited affordable housing combined with government policy to cut housing benefit plus local cuts to homelessness services.”

Homelessness last peaked at just over 135,000 in 2003, then fell to 41,780 by 2009. It then rose a small amount in 2010, before this latest jump.

But housing minister Grant Shapps said homelessness remains lower than for 28 of the last 30 years, that the figures were still half the average rate seen under Labour, and blamed “the debt-laden economy we inherited [which] is leaving a legacy of hard-up households across the country”.

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