Drop In New Homeless Cases

The number of people newly homeless is falling, official figures show today. Cases totalled 17,310 in October to December in England last year, compared to a peak of 35,770 three years earlier, National Statistics said. The number of households in temporary accommodation dipped below 90,000 for the first time since 2003, to 89,510.

Adam Sampson, chief executive of Shelter, said: “Any drop in new cases of homelessness is to be welcomed, provided it is brought about by genuine work to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place. The government must also tackle the huge backlog of almost 90,000 households – double the 1997 figure – who are trapped in temporary accommodation, waiting for a permanent home.”

Mr Sampson said more than 122,000 homeless children in England alone are having their health, education and future chances “ruined by the lack of a safe, permanent home”. Pledging to build 20,000 extra social rented homes in the next Comprehensive Spending Review would be a step in the right direction, he argued.

The housing minister, Yvette Cooper, said: “Despite today’s housing pressures, these new figures show that we are seeing real achievements in tackling and preventing homelessness, but we now face new challenges and need new solutions.”

In the past 10 years rough sleeping has been cut by more than two thirds and families with children no longer live long-term in bed and breakfast hostels, she said.

Since 2003, local authorities have had strategies in place to prevent and tackle homelessness. By 2008, the government will have invested £300m in prevention services. Local authorities have been allocated £47.2m in homelessness grants for this year, and voluntary organisations have been given £16m for homelessness prevention work.