Government report reveals 68,000 households faced homelessness threat this year

More than 68,000 households in England have been assessed as homeless or facing homelessness during a three-month period this year, an increase of more than 11% compared to the same period last year, a report has said.

Figures published by the Government on Wednesday showed that a total of 68,170 households were initially assessed as threatened with homelessness or homeless between April and June this year.

The data also showed that the number of households in temporary accommodation was 86,130 on June 30, up by 4.5% from 82,390 on the same date last year.

A total of 23,430 of these households were in temporary accommodation in a different council area, the report said.

It comes a day after charity Shelter estimated there were 280,000 homeless people in England, or one out of 200 people.

Responding to the Government report, Polly Neate (pictured), chief executive at homeless charity Shelter, said: “Now the election is over, the new Government must turn its attention on our worsening housing emergency.

“This is an emergency that is tipping thousands of people into homelessness, forcing parents to raise children in grim B&Bs and uprooting families from their jobs, schools and loved ones.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government report does not cover rough sleepers but refers to statutory homelessness – where a household has no legal right to occupy accommodation or where it is not physically available or reasonable to continue living in.

The report showed the most frequent cause for loss of home in the three-month period was “friends or family no longer willing or able to accommodate”, which covered 25% of households, followed by termination of shorthold tenancies at 21%.

Under the 2017 Homelessness Reduction Act, local authorities have a duty to prevent homelessness in these cases or help find alternative or temporary accommodation when asked for help by an individual or family.

John Healey MP, Labour’s shadow housing secretary, blamed the Government for the increase in the problem.

He said: “The national shame of high and rising homelessness this Christmas is a direct result of 10 years of the Conservatives.

“There’s no more powerful reminder of the need for a Labour government than the homelessness we now see in every town and city in our country.

“We will continue to hold the Tories hard to account for their decisions which are making this problem worse and to make the case for change.”

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick defended the Government, adding the number of overall rough sleepers had decreased.

He said: “We have a moral imperative to act to reduce homelessness. One homeless person is one too many and this Government is taking action to protect those most at risk. Last year the number of homeless people sleeping rough fell by 2%.

“More people are getting the support they need to start rebuilding their lives – backed by £1.2 billion in funding to reduce all forms of homelessness and rough sleeping, the duty we’ve placed on councils to provide vital help to those who need it, and our commitment to building the homes this country needs.

“But there is more we can do – which is why we committed in our manifesto to more integrated working of local health and housing services and the renewal of the affordable homes programme, helping prevent people from falling into homelessness,” he said.

Local Government Association’s housing spokesman, Cllr David Renard, added: “The new government can help to address this [homelessness] by adapting welfare reforms to protect families at risk of becoming homeless, by restoring Local Housing Allowance rates to cover at least the lowest third of market rents when the current freeze ends in 2020.

“It should also give councils the powers and funding to build desperately needed affordable new homes.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Shelter.