Homelessness Jumps 16% In England

Official figures show nearly 45,000 households had nowhere to live in the three months to December last year, reports the Guardian.

Figures published by the government on Tuesday show nearly 45,000 households in England were assessed as homeless in the three months to December, up from just under 39,000 during the same period in 2022. The figures also show the number of people – including children – in temporary accommodation hit record levels in 2023, triggering warnings of a housing “emergency”.

Mike Amesbury, the shadow minister for homelessness, said: “These stats reveal a growing Tory housing emergency being felt by families in every part of the country. Over the past 14 years, the Tories have taken a wrecking ball to the foundation of a secure home, leaving Britain facing a homelessness epidemic. Under this government’s watch, kids are growing up in temporary accommodation, coming home from school to do their homework on the bathroom floor of a hotel room and eating dinner perched on their bed.”

Polly Neate, the chief executive of Shelter, said: “Decades of failure to build enough genuinely affordable social homes has left families struggling to cobble together extortionate sums every month to keep a roof over their heads. Those who can’t afford private rents are being thrown into homelessness and then left for months and even years in damaging temporary accommodation because there is nowhere else.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said: “We want everyone to have a safe place to call home, which is why we’re giving councils £1.2bn so that they can give financial support to those who need it, helping them to find a new home and move out of temporary accommodation. At the same time, we’ve boosted the local housing allowance, giving the 1.6 million private renters in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit an additional £800 to help towards rental costs.”

The Conservatives promised in 2019 they would build 300,000 additional homes every year by the mid-2020s in an attempt to tackle housing shortages and spiralling prices. Last year, however, only 234,400 new homes were added to England’s housing stock, while MPs say the figure is unlikely to get close to the government’s target by 2025. Part of the problem, say experts, is the decision by ministers to abandon mandatory population-based targets for local authorities, which they did after a backbench rebellion by Conservatives mainly from suburban and rural seats.

The figures released on Tuesday also show the number of people who were made homeless or were threatened with homelessness because of a no-fault eviction in 2023 reached a record total of 25,910. The Conservatives had promised to end no-fault evictions. But the government amended its renters reform bill last week to postpone the start of that ban indefinitely, saying it could be brought in only when the court system was deemed ready to take on a potential influx of cases.

Tom Darling, the campaign manager at the Renters’ Reform Coalition, said: “Every week sees more families evicted and growing pressure on the budgets of councils struggling to meet the rising cost of homelessness support. And yet observing this steadily spiralling crisis, it is maddening to watch the government’s approach to the Renters (Reform) bill, one of the key levers at its disposal to tackle this crisis.”