More than 300,000 people – equivalent to a city the size of Newcastle – are now categorised as homeless in Britain after a spike in numbers in the last year, a report has revealed.
The study, by housing charity Shelter, found that 307,000, or one in every 200, people are now either sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation.
Although the figure has risen by 13,000 in the last year alone, Shelter said the partial nature of government data means the real number of homeless people is likely to be even higher.
The report, Homelessness in Great Britain – The Numbers Behind the Story shows the government is not getting to grips with the homelessness crisis.
The detailed report uses the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. It compiles the latest statistics of people are homeless and living in temporary accommodation, rough sleeping, in hostels or being temporarily housed under the Children’s Act.
Record numbers of people are sleeping on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room
The report also shows the rate of increase in homelessness is highest in the West Midlands, where homelessness has increased by 12 per cent. Yorkshire and Humber, and the North West of England, also saw increases in excess of ten per cent.
Chief Executive of Shelter, Polly Neate, said: “These new figures show that homelessness is having a devastating impact on the lives of people right across the country.
“Due to the perfect storm of spiralling rents, welfare cuts and a total lack of social housing, record numbers of people are sleeping out on the streets or stuck in the cramped confines of a hostel room.
“We desperately need action now to change tomorrow for the hundreds of thousands whose lives will be blighted by homelessness this winter.”
The report suggests a range of drivers for this latest increase in homelessness.
“The causes are multi-faceted and complex, but certainly include lack of supply of decent affordable housing, lack of protection for private renters and freezes and cuts to welfare payments,” said Shelter.
And according to Shelter’s summary, this does not even cover the full extent of the homelessness crisis in this country.
“We do not seek to assess how many people are sofa-surfing or experiencing other non-officially recorded types of homelessness, so our results will always be to some degree the tip of the iceberg.”
With another harsh winter on its way, and rough sleeping up 169 per cent in England in the years 2010-2017, these figures outlines the need for urgent action.
The Big Issue asked leaders including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and Secretary of State for Communities James Brokenshire to outline their plans to prevent homeless people dying on our streets this winter.
Brokenshire told us: “This summer, I set out a wide-ranging plan to end rough sleeping by 2027 – backed by £100m – to help those on the streets get swift, targeted help.”
But austerity continues to bite, hampering efforts to get to grips with the crisis.
For while the Homelessness Reduction Act requires local authorities to take “all reasonable steps” to prevent people becoming homeless, there is a huge shortfall in funding to fulfill these obligations.
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