Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis

Christmas is just three days away, but thousands of people, particularly young people, will be out on the street on Christmas Day, writes Rory Weal.

 

Christmas is just three days away, but whilst most will be spending it in the warmth of their living room with their family, thousands of people, particularly young people, will be out on the street on Christmas Day, writes Rory Weal

Recent government figures make for grim reading; the number of households declared homeless so far this year is up by 13 per cent from the same period last year.

Thirty five thousand six hundred and eighty households have been accepted as homeless by local authorities since the start of 2011 and many more are projected to suffer a similar fate.

As the festive season looms thousands of people are facing the prospect of a Christmas out in the cold, as government cutbacks throw thousands out of their homes at the same time as an economic storm engulfs the livelihoods of many, with young people bearing a substantial brunt of the crisis.

On Tuesday housing charity Shelter revealed almost 70,000 children will wake up on Christmas Day in temporary accommodation, without a home to call their own.

Commenting on the figures, Kay Boycott, Shelter’s director of communications, policy and campaigns, said:

“It’s a shocking fact that every two minutes someone in Britain faces losing their home. All it takes is one small thing like illness or job loss to push families into a spiral of debt and homelessness.”

The figures from Shelter come alongside a report by another homelessness charity, Crisis, which showed (pdf) that the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47 compared with 77 for the general population.

These figures emerge against a backdrop of rising homelessness on a scale not seen since the 1980s.

Government measures are largely responsible, because as reliance on voluntary services and charities providing housing is rising sharply, the ability to cater for such a rise is falling drastically with a 25 per cent average cut in funding for homeless charities.

For families that are able to keep a roof over their head, the drastic and punitive changes to housing benefit are predicted to push thousands out of major cities in the New Year as they are priced out of many inner city areas, causing major disruption and untold misery to the lives of many.

Figures (pdf) from London Councils suggest there will be an exodus of 82,000 households in London alone. It says this could rise to 133,000 with the introduction of universal credit in 2013 that will cap the total benefits a family can claim.

Thousands upon thousands will be spending December 25th either on the street or in temporary accommodation. In an affluent country such as the UK, it is totally morally wrong for such numbers of people, many young children, to be condemned to such misery on Christmas Day.

The growing housing crisis is set to escalate as the government continues to punish the most vulnerable and needy; it’s time they took action to rescue many more being plunged into homelessness in the New Year.

See also:

Livingstone pledges London Living Rent, saying Boris has “completely failed” on housingShamik Das, December 13th 2011

A third of the country could lose advice vital to preventing homelessnessWill Horwitz, October 19th 2011

Councils and Whitehall must work together to avoid a homelessness epidemicAnna Turley, September 12th 2011

Are Pickles and Shapps misleading the public on homelessness?Jenny Pennington, July 9th 2011

Shelter: Housing benefit cuts will “change London for decades”Liam R Thompson, November 9th 2010

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18 Responses to “Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis”

  1. Bea Shrewsbury

    shocking

  2. Tom

    I agree Tory/Lib Dem policies are disastrous. I agree homelessness at this time of year is terrible and that the homeless almost certainly don’t live as long as the rest of us. Sadly, however, we can tell little about excess mortality among the homeless from the Crisis report – see http://www.nontoxic.org.uk/?p=277&wpmp_tp=0. Average age of death is not the same as life expectancy. For example, I would imagine average age of death among university students is around 20 but this is clearly not a very informative statistic.

  3. Alex Braithwaite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/cLIcIEbm

  4. Charlotte Jones

    RT @leftfootfwd: Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/aG45w5i7

  5. Anonymous

    This is what you get in a divided and highly unequal society.

    The great bulk of homelessness, along with many other ‘social problems’, are due to British people continuing to believe that a decent society can be built on selfish greed and market forces.

    I fear that things will get significantly worse before enough of the population wakes up to the fact that there are much better ways to run the Country: ways that incentivise the many and control the few rather than incentivising the few and controlling the many.

  6. VeeBee

    http://t.co/4kvHpOns Left Foot Forward: Out in the cold on Christmas Day-the growing #homelessness crisis #housing #cuts #poverty

  7. Nicholas Ripley

    RT @leftfootfwd: Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/Wde4VNmv

  8. TheCreativeCrip

    Out in the cold on Christmas day; @RoryWeal on the growing homelessness crisis: http://t.co/C1sdP130

  9. Colne Valley Labour

    Out in the cold on Christmas day; @RoryWeal on the growing homelessness crisis: http://t.co/C1sdP130

  10. Jamie

    Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/yz9gbz5h #Shelter #homeless #poverty

  11. Angus Carruthers

    Out in the cold on Christmas Day – my article for @leftfootfwd on the growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/yapQ9jwk

  12. Laurence Yearsley

    Out in the cold on Christmas day; @RoryWeal on the growing homelessness crisis: http://t.co/C1sdP130

  13. Brnch Sec Ruth H

    Out in the cold on Christmas day; @RoryWeal on the growing homelessness crisis: http://t.co/C1sdP130

  14. joe oneill

    RT @leftfootfwd: Out in the cold on Christmas day: The growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/dZH3kmQE

  15. Knut Cayce

    RT @leftfootfwd: Out in the cold on #Christmas day: The growing #homelessness crisis http://t.co/1cqychC5

  16. david seddon

    Out in the cold on Christmas day; @RoryWeal on the growing homelessness crisis: http://t.co/C1sdP130

  17. Rowland Paul Hill

    Out in the cold on Christmas Day – my article for @leftfootfwd on the growing homelessness crisis http://t.co/yapQ9jwk

  18. Newsbot9

    Don’t worry, they’re working hard to make homelessness illegal. Problem solved!

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