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Report: More than 300,000 people homeless in Britain

Words: Laura Edgar
Homeless / iStock-539478350

There are 307,000 people recorded as being homeless in Britain, an increase of 13,000 in one year, a report by Shelter has suggested.

The housing charity has combined official rough-sleeping figures with those for temporary accommodation and social services.

However, given that government records are not definitive, Shelter believes there to be more than 307,000 people who are homeless.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, 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.

“On a daily basis, we speak to hundreds of people and families who are desperately trying to escape the devastating trap of homelessness. A trap that is tightening thanks to decades of failure to build enough affordable homes and the impact of welfare cuts.”

In response to the findings of the report, Far from alone: Homelessness in Britain in 2017, Shelter has launched an appeal, calling on the public to support its frontline advisers as they work tirelessly to help people to stay in their home or find a new one.

The report notes that a lack of affordable homes and the welfare reforms, including Universal Credit, makes it difficult to escape homelessness. In England, where more people are affected, over a third of those living in temporary accommodation will still be homeless in a year’s time.

Shelter said one in every 200 people in England is homeless and the report maps the top 50 hotspots with the highest levels of homelessness.

At the top is Newham, London, where 1 in every 25 people is homeless. Other results include:

  • Haringey – 1 in 29
  • Westminster – 1 in 31
  • Enfield – 1 in 33
  • Luton – 1 in 52
  • Birmingham – 1 in 88
  • Manchester – 1 in 154

Neate added: “As this crisis continues to unfold, the work of our frontline services remains absolutely critical. We will do all we can to make sure no one is left to fight homelessness on their own. But we cannot achieve this alone; we urgently need the public’s support to be there for everyone who needs us right now.”

In response to the report, Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, 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.”

Homeless is spreading across the country, causing “huge” challenges for councils with the net cost for councils of funding temporary accommodation tripling in the past 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.”

Image credit | iStock