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Homelessness - Homelessness

Homelessness in families on the rise

The number of homeless families in England is up 11% in a year, figures show. Children living in temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs and hostels, also surges to 13-year high.

The number of families considered homeless in England has surged by 11%, with a household found to be without a home every four minutes, according to new figures. Government data shows in the first three months of this year, there were 25,130 families with children identified as homeless, compared with 22,700 the previous quarter.
The number of children living in temporary accommodation, such as B&Bs, hostels and council-owned properties, meanwhile hit a 13-year high at 126,020, up 83% since its the lowest point in June 2011.
Campaigners said the rise in homeless families was the result of “cripplingly expensive” private rents, frozen housing benefits, and lengthy waiting lists for social homes. They said the Homelessness Reduction Act (HRA) 2017, which came into force in April 2018 and a duty on housing authorities to intervene earlier to prevent homelessness, was having some affect but that the government needed to do more to tackle the housing crisis.
Dr Luke Heselwood, senior researcher at Reform, said the rise in homeless families was “damning”, adding: “Although the number of people who have secure accommodation has also risen, it does not meet demand. Too many people are stranded in temporary accommodation, which is insecure and costly to the taxpayer. Short-term thinking and funding has blighted homelessness services.”
He said while the £54m increase in funding announced in the government’s recent spending review was “welcome”, it would only be a short-term fix to “firefight” an issue which requires long-term solutions.
Jon Sparkes, chief executive at Crisis, said the HRA had “potential”, but that it could “only go so far when people are being pushed to the brink, struggling to meet the cost of housing”.
He added: “The government needs to tackle the root causes of this issue – investing in building more social housing and restoring Local Housing Allowance (LHA), so that it covers the true cost of renting.”
Polly Neate, chief executive at Shelter, said “cripplingly expensive” private rents, frozen housing benefits, and lengthy waiting lists for social homes were “pushing people to the sharp edge of a housing emergency which won’t go away without genuinely affordable homes”.
She said: “During a year where Brexit negotiations have totally dominated the political agenda, catastrophic numbers of people have become homeless. While the housing crisis is out of the spotlight, families with young children are trapped in grim temporary accommodation like B&Bs and shipping containers, and young people feel the damaging effects of growing up in a housing emergency."

Read: Independent - Number of homeless families in England up 11% in a year, figures show